In almost every episode of A&E's Hoarders, a single animal pulled from the mass of heaping garbage is paraded as a symbol. It's both a trope and testament to the hoarder's insanity that a living creature could be buried under detritus, going undetected until the network's intervention. But in a recent Southwest Miami-Dade raid, the animals were literally the garbage.
Two women in Homestead were stockpiling 81 dogs in a misguided attempt to love them, according to Luis Delgado from Miami-Dade Animal Services. A neighbor suspected the women were breeding the dogs for fighting and was alarmed by a foul smell, which seemed a sign of dead or dying animals. Yesterday, when officers arrived to investigate, the mother and daughter were moving their "pets" into a U-Haul and attempting to flee.
"It was just two women -- in their minds -- trying to rescue and save these dogs from the street," Delgado told Riptide. He said that Animal Services deals with more than 50 cases of animal hoarding per year.
The captive dogs ranged from stray mutts to purebreds and from huskies to terriers. Cages were found coated in three inches of dried fecal matter, and the interior of the home didn't look much better. There was no electricity or running water. Based on those conditions alone, Delgado thinks there's enough evidence to issue civil citations, which will amount to $500 for each dog.
Remarkably, vets reported the animals were healthy, albeit dirty. The women were allowed to keep eight of the dogs on the 2.5-acre property, according to county rules. The other 73 will be put up for adoption in the upcoming weeks.
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A criminal investigation is ongoing, but Delgado notes there were no scars or wounds on the dogs.
Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti