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Posted on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 5 p.m.

Humane society seizes 45 dogs, 20 cats in two animal hoarding cases

By Amy Biolchini

Editor's note: This story was updated at 6 p.m. with additional information from Matt Schaecher.

Animal cruelty investigators from the Humane Society of Huron Valley seized 45 dogs and 20 cats in two separate hoarding cases recently in Washtenaw County.


One of 45 dogs seized in a recent animal hoarding case that is now up for adoption at the Humane Society of Huron Valley.

Courtesy HSHV

In both cases, the animals had been neglected. The dogs and cats are in fairly good health, according to HSHV staff.

Two cats and 45 dogs were taken from a Milan-area residence last week, said Matt Schaecher, cruelty and rescue supervisor for HSHV.

The owner of the animals, an elderly woman, had health issues and could no longer live on her own.

Schaecher said the woman surrendered the animals to the humane society and all 45 dogs and two cats from the case will soon be up for adoption. HSHV will not be pursuing cruelty charges in the case.

The dogs were well-fed, though some were found to have heart worm, Schaecher said.

“She tried to do her best to care for them,” Schaecher said. “Unfortunately (hoarding cases) are not uncommon.”

Schaecher said cases of animal hoarding typically start when people take in stray unsterilized animals, the animals breed and their offspring continue to multiply.

“They’re usually unwilling to get rid of anything,” Schaecher said of animal hoarders.

In a separate case, the animal cruelty investigators seized 18 cats last week from an Ypsilanti Township residence after receiving a complaint.

The HSHV will be pursuing animal cruelty charges in the neglect case and Schaecher could not comment further on the living conditions for the cats.

“With the economy the way it is, we’re seeing an increase in cruelty cases with lack of food; people unable to feed and care for their animals,” Schaecher said.

With the sharp influx of animals over a short period of time, the humane society is in need of willing individuals to adopt the animals.

“Hoarder cases like these put a serious strain on our already full shelter,” according to a statement by Tanya Hilgendorf, CEO of HSHV.

The dogs are mostly small breeds: Chihuahua, Pomeranian and Terrier mixes.

“These are wonderful dogs, and are generally healthy, but due to neglectful conditions, most did not get quite the right amount of socialization and training. Many are still very unsure of themselves and have not had much experience in the world,” according to a statement by Renee Bell, adoptions manager for the HSHV. “Most will do best in a home with another dog and, unfortunately, are not ideal for families with small kids.”

The humane society is discounting the small dog adoption fee for dogs from these cases by more than $100.

All animals will be spayed/neutered, vaccinated, temperament tested, health checked and treated for illnesses before being put up for adoption. They’ll also receive a microchip for identification purposes.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

I will be on the way shortly :D

Barbara Read

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

We got our dog from a rescue group in Canton. He came to us with a double ear infection and giardia and he was afraid of everything: the dark, the car, people, dogs, the stairs. Poor little dog had only ever lived in a cage. But he was SO grateful. And he has overcome most of his fears--he loves the car--and is a happy loving dog who adores the kids. Thank goodness for the humane society.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

Are you talking about Homeward Bound? We got ours from there as well. Great rescue.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

Awesome success story! My first and only dog in high school came from my local humane society at the time, and my family has zero regrets about adopting him.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

For your information, HSHV IS NOT a no kill shelter!!


Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Ann's comment here, and her earlier note, are both correct. We started adopting from HSHV in the 70's, and have taken home several pets since. Improvements there over the years have been remarkable.

Ann English

Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

Carrie, The HSHV, back in 1976, would euthanize puppies and dogs if no one adopted them after four days.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Ypsidog, the only time HSHV euthanizes a dog is if they are dangerous to their staff or if the dog is very old and ill. They do not euthanize a dog or cat just because they have not been adopted .


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

Maybe so, but with an 85% save rate, that's pretty close to no kill. Taking in all sorts of animals from the county makes it hard to not to put some down.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

"She tried to do her best to care for them," What? Hoarding large numbers of animals is not caring for them. Period.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Huron Valley Humane Society is a no kill facility.


Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

I spoke with HSHV on the phone yesterday and they explained their policy to me as "he only time HSHV euthanizes a dog is if they are dangerous to their staff or if the dog is very old and ill. They do not euthanize a dog or cat just because they have not been adopted ."


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

I'm not sure that's true, Carrie. When we adopted our "found" dog from the Traverse Bay Humane Society, and they saw we were from this area, they made us promise that if we had to return him, we would take him back up there as opposed to HSHV, who did not have a "no-kill" policy. Of course this in no way means that the folks at HSHV aren't doing a wonderful job. I imagine they have a lot more animals to support.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

I'm not sure HSHV actually makes that claim; I do know they have a *very* high adoption rate and low euthanasia per cent.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

and that means????

Silly Sally

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Why not neuter two of the dogs and leave them with her? And, promise to come back and jail or fine her if she has any more.

Ann English

Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

There's more to owning dogs than just feeding them. Routine veterinary PREVENTIVE care, walking them, bathing them. The dogs certainly have more energy to expend than she does. The elderly people who are uplifted by canine companionship are well people to begin with. This woman has health issues, which means she isn't well.

music to my ear

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

maybe ss is a little older too we dont know her.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Yes, reading the article before commenting is usually very helpful


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

Also no need for S/S to post the same note twice.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Hey, it was easy for SS to miss that little bit in the article. No need to be so mean about it.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

suggest you re-read what Johnnya2 has to say! hello?! @johnnya2, too right!!


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

READ THE ARTICLE: "The owner of the animals, an elderly woman, had health issues and could no longer live on her own. Do you understand now, or does this require explanation?

Ann Dwyer

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

I got my Scruffy dog after the HSHV broke up a puppy mill. He didn't have the training or socialization , either. But he is the best dog in the world now. Many rescue dogs quickly pick up on the fact that they've been rescued and show a lot of appreciation. It takes time, but it's worth it.

Ann English

Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

Justcurious, I don't know if it depends on the particular mix of breeds for a dog to be healthier than others, but a dog half fox terrier, quarter husky and quarter German Shepherd which I once had, didn't need any veterinarian care until he broke a leg. We didn't know anything about routine vet care when we got him, but quickly found one relatively near after his injury. He was small, like his fox terrier mother. Never caught heartworm during those summer months, the first months we had him.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Our rescue is totally appreciative of it. It is like having the Queen Mum in the house. Otherwise, yes, very spoiled rescue here.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Ann, you are so right about rescue dogs showing appreciation. You can see it in their eyes. Some of ours don't want to let you out of their sight. I guess they are afraid of being abandoned. I also think that the mixed breed dogs are sturdier health wise.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:09 a.m.

So do you think they ever made it to a dog park?


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:13 a.m.

This is a heartbreaking story. I'm sure she thought she was providing a home and safety for them. But this illness is very serious. I hope they can all find homes. Small dogs can be wonderful companions. We have 3 smaller dogs ourselves. Two of them were rescues.

Ann English

Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

I know how dogs should receive routine care, that owners should not wait for symptoms of disease. Heartworm comes from mosquito bites, and hunting breeds (like Labradors) can catch parasites from the wild animals they find dead. With dog park news fresh, the new owners of these dogs, whoever they will be, should give them outlets for their energy, something else this lady could not provide.

Dog Guy

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

Those swifferdogs can clean dustbunnies from under very low beds Has anyone developed a roombacat?


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

I've seen videos of cats actually riding on Roombas.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

Dog Guy, I have a cat(actually she has me) and I rather doubt that "Esther" would be amenable to this idea ;)


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

I'd like to know if (when) there are further details of possible stolen pets. Animal hoarders are known to move into neighborhoods and steal other people's pets. If your pet was stolen at a dog park, for example, you should definitely look into where these neglected and hoarded pets were taken before they're put down by the "humane" society.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:13 a.m.

Uh..this particular Humane Society is known for it's high.." no kill " rate and the people that work there are wonderful. Hopefully these lil guys and girls will be adopted soon.

music to my ear

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

sounds possible.


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

Really? I'd never heard that. I've known of a lab or two that trapped strays, but wonder where you've encountered hoarders who steal animals.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

As an animal lover, it's heartbreaking to hear about stories like this and to know that I can't adopt the dogs and cats myself. To donate to the HSHV, call 734-661-3573 or visit

Ann English

Sat, Jan 19, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

It does sound like the HSHV of today is VERY different from HSHV of 1976. Back then, cats cost $5 and dogs $11 because they needed more food than cats. They didn't ensure that animals adopted from them were healthy (one puppy adopted that spring had mange, but not a serious case of it), new owners had their own veterinarians do the spaying and neutering, and of course there were no biochip implants possible. If today's HSHV does all the spaying, neutering and ensuring each adoptable animal is healthy, that would explain the jump in the price (whatever that is, over $100) of each animal that gets a new home.

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

Ah I agree, Amy!

music to my ear

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

P. s . this picture of the little dog is before a bathie.

music to my ear

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

its before a bathie its what mommies tell their doggies when they are dirty you need a bathie(Lol)


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

Its what?


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

some one adopt this cute little dog.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

The dog reminds me of ours who was put to sleep a few years due to a massive stroke. These dogs are great, but you also have to be aware that these dogs can also suddenly be totally afraid of strangers. Ours did. Otherwise, wish I had time to take in a few of these. Wow. In a few years I might just become a foster mom.


Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Silly Sally, in the article it said "The owner of the animals, an elderly woman, had health issues and could no longer live on her own."

Silly Sally

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

Why not neuter two of the dogs and both cats and leave them with her? She can care for 2, just not 45. She needs supervision in the form of a court promised home inspection in a few months to check for additional dogs or cats.

Blue Marker

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

I'm actually thinking about it. We have two now but the HVHS can't take an influx of animals that large and not have it cramp things a bit. That little black and white number pictured above just needs a bath and a milk bone. I will either adopt or make a donation that's for sure.