Lee Co. Domestic Animal Serivces responds to third hoarding call in four days

CREATED Mar 3, 2014

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Lee County Domestic Animal Services removed 16 dogs from a home Saturday, making for the third hoarding cases officers responded to in four days.

The influx of animals is putting a strain on the shelter and its resources.

Officers removed 52 animals from three different hoarder's homes since Wednesday. 

"That's a huge strain on the capacity that we have here," said Ria Brown, public information officer at LCDAS.

"That means we have to start looking at foster homes, rescues and other shelters that can help us take the animals," she continued.

LCDAS shelter can house between 200-250 animals at a time.  

In the last five days, the shelter has taken in more than 180 animals. 

There are currently more than 50 hoarding cases officers know about in Lee County, and an estimated 100 more they don't know about.  

The cases aren't just putting a strain on the facility, but the LCDAS officers who are tasked with responding to calls. 

"On Saturday, I've only got two officers working in the whole county and one officer having to remove 16 dogs ties him up for a long, extended period of time," said Lt. Tony Backhurst.

Hoarding calls can take hours to respond to, which lengthens the response time for other calls. 

"The wait time for the public is going to naturally get longer when we've got something like removing a large quantity of animals," Backhurst said. 

All of the animals entering the shelter must get evaluated by the veterinary staff, so an influx of animals coming from poor living environments strains the vet office as well. 

Still, officers must respond to each call they get.  Since January 1st, LCDAS has received 2,500 calls. 

"As much of a strain as it puts on us, it's our obligation to go out and help because the animals didn't sign up for this... they have no voice and we always say, we have to be their voice, so we will do the best we can," Backhurst said. 

LCDAS is in great need of people to adopt or foster animals.  For more information, click HERE or call 239-533-7387.

Lee County has a special task force set up to help hoarders.

If you, or someone you know is in a hoarding situation, call 239-533-7387.