Cruelty, like love, takes many forms.

Perhaps the most sinister form of cruelty comes in the guise of love. One need not look far within the human family to find this kind of brokenness. But such brokenness extends to the animal kingdom, too.

Consider the animal hoarders.

According to experts, animal hoarders:

  • keep more animals than they have ability or resources with which to provide proper care and attention
  • deny this inability as well as the severity of the situation
  • obsessively maintain or increase the number of animals despite deteriorating conditions that range from cramped and unsanitary living spaces to neglect, starvation, and even death.

Seemingly inexplicably, animal hoarders usually express love for their animals and exhibit severe anxiety at the prospect of the animals being removed.

But this confuses love and attachment. Even highly emotional attachment is not the same as love, as any abused child or spouse might tell us, and as hoarded animals show us, even without the ability to speak.

A recent case is an extreme, yet somewhat typical, example. In June, the Humane Society of the United States seized 700 cats from a purported feline "sanctuary" in Florida, run by a husband and wife who, some believe, started out with good intentions that went horribly awry.

Ashley Mauceri, deputy manager of Animal Cruelty Investigations for the HSUS, told me in a phone interview that the vilest aspect of this case was a room in the couple's home that the couple called the "infirmary." It contained one of the most troubling scenes of animal neglect Mauceri has seen in countless investigations across the nation. Back on the site last weekend to help facilitate 258 adoptions of the 550 cats that were rescued from the site, Mauceri referred ...

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