Animal rescue from hoarding

Shelby, a female St. Bernard/Great Pyrenees mix, was rescued from a hoarding situation in Tennessee. She is pictured with Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society Kennel Tech Brittany Andrews and CHHS Assistant Manager Jodi Henkel, background.

By Beth Lawrence


Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society recently stepped in to assist a Tennessee county in accommodating animals rescued from a hoarding situation.

Two CHHS staff made the four and a half hour drive last Friday to Pikeville in Bledsoe County to pick up six dogs who had been taken from the home, said David Stroud, executive director of CHHS.

“When we do these rescues, we take in as many as we have room for,” Stroud said. “We never want to get ourselves over capacity.”

The Humane Society of the United States notified CHHS of the case on Aug. 15.

Bledsoe authorities allege that Caroline Adkins hoarded more than 200 animals. Approximately 166 dogs, 40 cats, and a number of chickens and goats were removed, Stroud said.

“It was a rural piece of property just outside the city limits of Pikeville,” Stroud said. “The conditions were horrific in which they were living.”

Stroud was somewhat heartened by the fact that two typical markers for animal hoarding were absent in this case. Rescuers noticed that the animals didn’t exhibit aggression and fear when being removed from the property.

All of the animals went to no-kill shelters and will be adopted out, barring any drastic health conditions.

The six dogs at CHHS were assessed by veterinarians and will likely be eligible for adoption in the next couple of weeks. A medical condition would delay eligibility until the dog is healthy enough to be spayed or neutered.

Several animal rescues from Tennessee, Georgia and Oklahoma assisted in removal. 

Stroud believes that Adkins, like many hoarders, started out with good intentions.

“(It’s) what we see in animal hoarding cases a lot; some of the biggest animal lovers in the world are hoarders, as crazy as that may sound,” Stroud said. “They just feel like they’re doing the right thing ... like there’s no other recourse for these animals. In fact, in Bledsoe County there is no animal shelter, so it may be that this property owner felt like they were doing the best thing for these animals.”

Animal hoarding happens when people take in more animals they can care for properly physically or financially. The issue affects “mental health, animal welfare and public safety concerns,” according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Stroud warned that cases of animal hoarding can happen anywhere.

“It can certainly happen in Jackson County. This is a small piece of property that’s back off the highway; neighbors may have heard barking dogs but didn’t think anything of it,” he said.