Gloria Hillard for NPR
Toni Eakes, founder of A Wish For Animals, takes in animals that have been victims of hoarding.
Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control officials plan to file felony animal cruelty charges against a man described as an animal hoarder. Investigators found more than 100 farm animals and 200 dogs on his grounds in the high desert near Los Angeles.
Most were dehydrated and ill. Two dogs had died under a wheelbarrow.
The rescued animals now reside at sanctuaries throughout Southern California.
"A lot of these animals are afraid, and they don't get that way for no reason," says Toni Eakes, the founder of A Wish for Animals sanctuary, who helped coordinate the rescue.
"Removing them from that type of environment is the beginning," she says, as one of the rescued dogs sits panting at her feet.
The man had been charged with similar infractions in the past. Getting a hoarder to stop is a complicated matter, says Debbie Kanaan, who oversees the animal cruelty division of the Los Angeles district attorney's office.
"The re-offending rate is extremely high because they'll usually go out and collect more animals after you've confiscated all those animals. They can't help themselves," she says.
According to the Humane Society, between 700 and 2,000 hoarding cases are reported every year. Because hoarders often believe that they are actually saving the animals, hoarding cases can be difficult to prosecute and treat.