TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A new bill could crack down on animal hoarding here in Florida by making animal hoarding it's own punishable crime.
The bill was introduced last week by Senator Greg Steube. If put into place, the bill would create a legal definition of "animal hoarding" and establish a crime for the act.
A person convicted of the crime could then be required to undergo psychological counseling.
All of this after a story we brought you back in September where 34 chihuahuas were rescued from a hoarding situation when a concerned citizen made a call to the Leon County Humane Society.
The organization said that it began with a lack of spraying and neutering.
They said this type of situation is common because the rapid pace at which animals can reproduce can cause the best pet owner to get overwhelmed. However, the humane society said the owners of the dogs were open to help.
However, not all owners are as willing to admit they have a problem.
"Criminal charges can be an important first step, but psychological counseling is necessary to prevent hoarders from accumulating animals again," said Senator Steube. "Without mental health counseling, the hoarder is likely to repeat the behavior."
An animal hoarder is someone who takes in a large number of animals but is unable to take care of them. Currently, Florida law does not define animal hoarding, or distinguish animal hoarding from other forms of animal cruelty.
To Steube and other bill supporters, that lack of recognition is part of the problem.
"Hoarders often refuse to admit there's a problem, despite animals in obvious distress and conditions inside the home... In many animal hoarding cases, children are also found living in deplorable conditions," said Don Anthony, Communications Director for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. "Unfortunately, although there are arrests in animal hoarding cases, treatment orders are uncommon.
Luckily, for the 34 chihuahuas in Leon County, their owners were willing to accept help.
LCHS said that aside from basic medical treatment and some medical issues including eye conditions and skin infections and hairloss due to a flea infestation, most of the dogs appear to be relatively healthy.
The remaining dogs will stay in LCHS Foster Homes until they are ready to be adopted.
To adopt a four-legged friend in need of a forever family, visit the Leon County Humane Society here .