This is a discussion topic. Should this cat hoarder be helped to run her impromptu cat shelter or should she be ostracised and convicted of animal cruelty? The same question could in fairness be asked about a number of people who hoard cats. I ask the question because in the case of this cat hoarder, whose name by the way is D’ann Trethan, the last time in 2007 when she was in conflict with the law and when 50 cats were taken from her, all the seized cats were euthanised by the authorities the day before a hearing about her cat hoarding.
So in the 2007 case all the cats were taken from her and killed whereas when they were with her they were obviously living in unacceptable and perhaps appalling conditions but they were alive albeit perhaps in poor health. Back in 2007 might it not have been better if the local authority had assisted her to try and convert her behaviour from cat hoarding to becoming the manageress of a her own mini-cat shelter, or perhaps a cat fosterer looking after several cats?
Of course that may well have been impossible because often there is state legislation which dictates how many cats a person can look after in their home. But if a person is so dedicated to looking after vulnerable cats perhaps she should be employed to do it in a more professional manner.
Not all cat hoarders are crazy cat women (or men). We shouldn’t tar them all with the same brush. We shouldn’t automatically declare them to be crazy. Trethan says that the conditions under which she found herself living with her 50 or more cats, concerned her. She realised that there were faeces everywhere and that the place stank of ammonia because there was cat urine everywhere. She said:
“Yes it bothers me. But I still live in the house because the animals are there and I care about the animals. Some other people like me who care about animals, we tend to turn our own homes into shelters.”
I don’t think these are the words of a crazy cat person. They are the words of somebody who cares about animal welfare but is unable to manage the situation into which her emotions drive her. She wants to help but she lacks the practical skills and the pragmatism to do it effectively. Can’t we teach her these skills? Is it impractical to do that?
This lady lives in San Antonio as far as I’m aware. I don’t know the law about owning cats in San Antonio, USA. There may be restrictions on the number of cats a person can own. If there are restrictions then she should be allowed to look after the maximum number and there is an argument which says she should be trained in how to manage those cats.
That may be far-fetched and fanciful, in which case the cats should be taken away from her. However, we should not make a presumption that all the cats that she has cared for should be taken away; some of whom will be euthanized as is evidenced by what happened in 2007.
If somebody has a passion for animal welfare perhaps that passion should be channelled more effectively with training and if it saves the lives of cats it may be cost-effective.
Below is some more information about this lady, D’ann Trethan, who by the way is 68 years of age. Her age should not bar from looking after a larger number of cats than normal. These days many people work beyond the age of 70.
She said, “I have approximately 50 and I collected them over time”. When animal care services entered the home they found the usual disastrous mess. Everything was wrong. There were faeces and urine all over the place and the litter boxes were overflowing et cetera. The smell of ammonia from the urine was overpowering. This is nothing new with respect to cat hoarding.
Trethan says that animal care services lied to her because she claims that they told her that she would have a week to clean up her house. This is denied by the authorities who say that the animals would have died unless that stepped in.
Threthan states that she disagrees with the assessment on the safety of the cats by the authorities. She claims that the animals were safe but she admits that the house was a mess. Her words are those of a rational person. There is no indication in the information that I read that she has behaved fraudulently or deceitfully. She just lacks management skills and a rational approach to cat shelter work.
Perhaps I’m being too provocative in suggesting that it might be possible on occasions to tap into the compassion and caring nature of some but not all cat hoarders to convert them into being effective managers of small but effective hobby cat shelters provided that is allowed under the law. However, this option is rarely, if ever, considered.