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Animal hoarding cases rising slightly in Allegheny County, humane officer says

Humane officers report slight rise in animal hoarding cases in Allegheny County
Humane officers report slight rise in animal hoarding cases in Allegheny County 02:56

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Humane officers say they're seeing a slight rise in hoarding cases in Allegheny County. Even though it's slight, they say it's more alarming the cases aren't decreasing.

"It's more hoarding than actual physical cruelty," said humane officer Angie Fry.

Concerns are rising over the state of animal hoarding across our area in the last few months. In many cases, the animals are found to be in poor health.

"I think a lot of that may be due to just COVID and people have lost their jobs and the financial inability," Fry said. 

In December, Armstrong County humane officers removed 130 animals, some covered in feces while others were shivering from being left in frigid conditions. A Buffalo Township couple faces over 200 animal cruelty and neglect charges in that case.

Last month, charges were filed against a Westmoreland County couple after police found nearly 80 animals living in filth without food or water inside a home in Penn Township.

"I tell owners this all the time: this is not healthy for the animal or for you," Fry said. 

Most, if not all, of the animals taken from hoarders go to the humane society, foster care or are dispersed to other rescue groups in the state. Usually this involves taking on more animals but Fry says the rescue's main focus is the animal's safety. 

"If I'm there in an official capacity, my job is to make sure that animal is removed safely, get it to a place where it can be medically treated, properly housed, that kind of thing," Fry said. 

While the number of hoarding cases has only increased slightly in Allegheny County, officer Fry says she's very concerned and believes education is key to prevention.

"Before you get to a position where it has to involve an authority, here's where you can turn for help: We offer resources here with our clinic, we have a free pet pantry we offer, so there are social services, I've involved them, Department of Aging, so we really try to work with the owners before we get to that criminal step," Fry said. 

Fry says if a pet owner is overwhelmed, there's no judgment. They're here to help. They say they care just as much about the humans as they do the animals. 

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