On April 2, 2010, in a Fort Myers Shores neighborhood, of Lee County, Florida, authorities rescued 143 animals from conditions officials called "The worst we've ever seen."
There was much, much less food and water than so many animals required, many of which were ill and barely able to walk. "You couldn't stay inside more than fifteen minutes without having to rush outside for air."
All sorts of breeds small and large were confiscated. So much fecal matter and urine had soaked the floors and walls that the walls were rotted through. Garbage had also accumulated in every room.
The little chihuahua shown above, upon being removed from the house, sniffed the air with amazement, having in its whole life never known the world might not smell like amonia and methane from urine and feces.
Sixty-one dogs were removed from the residence, the slick floors of which were invisible under excreta. Twenty-six of the dogs were Shi Tzus, the rest chihuahuas, pekingese and toy poodles. Also kept inside the house were ten cats, twenty-six chickens, forty-five pigeons, and one rabbit.
The man who collected the dogs, Bob Tracy, was at the time of the raid in the hospital having his foot amputated, due to infection caused by the filth he and his roommate had been living in.
A resident of the house, Charles Sharp, insisted "Is not my fault!" The hoarder who gathered up all the dogs was his hospitalized roommate, Bob, a known animal hoarder who had previously had over sixty dogs confiscated. Since there had been a court order for Bob never to keep dogs again, the new and larger batch were officially the property of Charles Sharp.
The fact that Charles claimed not to be the one with the hoarding disorder only induced authorities to include him all the more adamantly in the charges, since presumedly he was more capable of seeing that the dogs were emaciated, diseased, coated in filth, their fur crowded with ticks and fleas, in deplorably filthy conditions. He was, in fact, the primary caretaker of the dogs, Bob living at the residence part-time.
Bob from his hospital bed confirmed he lived at the residence part time, and he relied on Charles to take care of the dogs. Bob had intended to breed dogs to sell, but it all got out of his control. This is the usual plaint of the animal hoarder, who as a general rule does suffer mental illness.
Like all animal hoarders the home owner claimed he meant no harm, loved the animals, was well aware he had a problem, but could not bring himself to do anything about it. Child abusers make similar claims, and perhaps shouldn't be too much believed.
In the fallout, the feces and urine infused house so irrediably that the house was condemned and slated for demolition. Charles Sharp entered into a plea agreement with the court that included six months jail time, fines, with court order to never again keep animals, and to undergo psychiatric treatment once released from jail.
At Lee County Animal Shelter the animals were getting medical attention, food, water, and lots of attention from volunteers, which they desparately needed. Most of the dogs were expected to make full recoveries and soon be adopted.