Helping Animals- and People - in a Hoarding Crisis

When organizations like Dakin respond to an animal hoarding case, it’s always as important to offer assistance to the person in crisis as well as the animals involved.  This was the case on March 27 when Dakin, joined by the Berkshire Humane Society, the Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter, Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office, local police officers, and state officials, assisted a Plainfield resident who had become overwhelmed by the large number of dogs in her care. More than 70 small dogs, mostly chihuahua and chihuahuas mixes, were removed from the home.

In early March, Dakin began assisting the Plainfield resident. First steps were to assess the situation determining exactly how many animals were on the property and then develop a plan for removal and future care. We had been doing everything we could to help this individual downsize. According to Director of Operations, Karina King, “Hoarding is a recognized mental health disorder and removing all animals just means the person will obtain more. Ensuring that she has spayed and neutered dogs to keep her company helps ensure she doesn't get back into the same place again.”  

Once the arrival time of the dogs was confirmed, staff, volunteers and fosters sprang into action, and coordinated transport and prepared accommodations for the dogs.  Foster caregivers signed up to take animals into their homes to make room for the small dogs while other volunteers helped by preparing the shelter, signing up for extra dog care shifts and relocating some of the guinea pigs and rabbits to other shelter wards. Volunteers assisted with enrichment activities, laundry, and cleaning cages, carriers and other essentials.  While at home, volunteers crafted belly bands to be used to help prevent dogs from indoor marking.

On March 27 the client agreed to surrender all dogs, which were found to be well cared for and in good health. Once the dogs arrived at Dakin the medical and behavioral teams began assessing each one in hopes of preparing them for adoption.

While everyone was busy welcoming and comforting the new arrivals, one could not forget the person on the other end who was struggling with the recent removal of her animals. The Plainfield resident is a well-intentioned animal lover whose personal struggles clouded her judgment and led to what she described as a very embarrassing situation.

In an act of kindness, Adoption Center Manager Moon Wymore took the time to send the woman a few heartwarming photos of the dogs settled in and comfortable at Dakin.  Moon’s gesture reminded us all that our compassion, and the values that Dakin embodies every day, extend not just to the animals in our care, but to the humans who care for them as well.  As Moon noted, “The smallest gesture of kindness can give brightness to a very dark day.”

The intake of over 40 dogs (13 initially and then another 30 on Monday) is the largest number of dogs Dakin has received in a single rescue effort in its 54-year history.  While many of the animals’ needs have been fulfilled in this effort, the shelter would appreciate additional assistance.

 “If folks would like to help, we would welcome donations, which can be made online at our website at,” said Executive Director Meg Talbert.  “Or they could consider adopting the dogs or becoming foster caregivers.”

We are no longer accepting inquiries and applications for adoption due to the overwhelming response we have received. If interested in becoming a Dakin foster to help in the future, please visit

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