Hoarding Trend in Columbia County

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EYERS GROVE -- Three different cases of what authorities call animal hoarding have left hundreds of pets dead or malnourished in the past few months, and they were all in Columbia County. Shelters are now asking people to notify authorities if they have any suspicions about animal hoarders living nearby.

First, authorities found 40 dogs and 24 cats living with a former animal control officer in Berwick in May.

In July, about 200 dogs were found in this home near Benton.

This past weekend, another 29 cats were found at a woman's home in Bloomsburg.

All were incidents that authorities call animal hoarding, and all of them were in Columbia County.

The Animal Resource Center near Millville in Columbia County took in a number of the animals. They've all since been adopted, but John Marino, who works at the ARC, says it was a long road for the animals.

"The quality of life they're receiving, there is no quality, basically. It's just living in your own feces and in a cage, if you were born in jail and kept in your cell all day long every day of your life," said Marino.

One of the reasons people at the animal resource center say some of these incidents get out of hand is because the people taking in these animals don't have the proper financial means to care for all of them. Another reason is because they really do think that they're helping these pets.

"First, they try to help but it's about quality of life for the animals. It's better to have six dogs that are well taken care of than 20 that are living in feces," said Marino.

Tom Ambrosia was accused of hoarding 200 dogs, mostly chihuahuas, with his brother in their Jackson Township home.

He told Newswatch 16 last week that he was not a hoarder and was caring for the pups.

"To say that the dogs were dirty or stinky is a lie. They were very clean. Even the people said the same thing. And I had to hand each of those boys and girls by name over to them and it was very, very hard," said Ambrosia.

Shelter employees say if you see a lot of pets going in a home, but never coming back outside, it could be a case of animal hoarding. If you think it's happening in your neighborhood, you're urged to call the authorities.