Encourage legislators to take action against heartless pet hoarders
Toole County officials courageously stepped forward and charged the couple with multiple counts of animal cruelty.
Their reward for doing the right thing: For six months Shelby residents had to operate “Camp Collie” at the fairgrounds (the dogs were moved to Great Falls for another three months before the owners were convicted and new homes could be found). Toole County spent more than $167,000, the Humane Society of the United States shelled out $250,000 and the American Working Collie Association spent tens of thousands more to care for this small army of dogs.
That was just the beginning. A couple of years later Cascade County spent more than $100,000 feeding and housing 138 dogs, 18 horses and 17 cats taken from the property of notorious hoarder Pam Polejewski. The discovery of 100 sled dogs in an old bus near Butte last year has cost the Humane Society $150,000. And last month, authorities seized 199 live dogs and two dozen dead ones from Linda Kapsa’s Shady Lane Kennels near Billings.
They’re being held at the county fairgrounds, unable to be adopted out until the case is resolved in court.
Here’s the good news: Montana’s Legislature is considering a bill that would give authorities new tools to fight these Hotel Hells.
For starters, the proposed law would recognize companion animal hoarding as a form of animal cruelty. And it would provide that, in addition to being fined, a convicted hoarder may be required to undergo a psychological evaluation and/or treatment.
That’s because, even though hoarders lack the time, ability and means to provide minimal care for their animals, they are in complete denial. They defend their practices even as dead and dying animals lie strewn about their property.
Do we really want to sentence nutty old ladies to prison for having a houseful of cats? Of course not.
Montana’s jails are too crowded as it is. But giving hoarders a suspended sentence would authorize officials to inspect their property to make certain they aren’t cranking up operations again. That’s the truly awful thing about these Hotel Hells. The minute nobody’s looking, they’re back in business. Hoarders have a recidivism rate of nearly 100 percent.
This marks the fourth time a hoarding bill has been introduced in Helena. Last time around, the House passed the bill by 68 votes, but it died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This time it has broad-based support, not just among animal welfare supporters. Sheriffs and prosecutors who’ve had to grapple with hoarders’ handiwork have signed on, too.
Still, let’s not take any chances. Take a moment today to call the state Capitol at 406- 444-4800 and ask members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote yes on Senate Bill 221 with amendments…” More
5 years ago