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article imageIrene Vandyke, 50, kept 99 cats in her home, 67 dead in freezer

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 27, 2013 in Lifestyle
Albany - Irene Vandyke, 50, an employee of Walmart, collected under unsanitary conditions in her home since her husband died two years ago, 99 living and 67 dead cats in her freezer. Authorities removed the cats from her home near Albany, upstate NY Wednesday.
According to The Daily Gazette, the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Department, the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley and Schenectady SPCA, removed the cats, including a partly blind dog, from her home in two visits. The authorities went to her home to collect the cats after her neighbors complained about the unpleasant odor of cat urine and feces.
Deputies discovered the 67 dead cats in plastic bags in her kitchen freezer. According to AP, the live cats were stored in crates stacked from floor to ceiling
The animals are now being cared for at the animal shelter of Schoharie Valley. The Daily Gazette reports shelter manager Kerrie Colin said the facility is only able to care for 46 cats. But Vandyke's cats have brought the population of cats at the shelter to more than 100. Collin said: “We’re at overload capacity."
Colin said she had tried to help Vandyke with her cat hoarding obsession but she refused help. Colin said: “The minute anyone tried to take her cats, she freaked out and threw them off her property. She definitely had a hoarder mentality. She’s not a horrible person. She just needs help and counseling."
The Times Union reports Colin said Vandyke had approached the shelter for donations but stopped coming when shelter officials tried to convince her to give up some of the cats. The shelter worker said they seized 30 cats from her home two week ago but "She called the next day and demanded her cats back. But she couldn't take care of them. The litter boxes were overflowing with feces, the smell and conditions were horrible."
Shelter workers had also attempted to entice her to give up some of her cats in exchange for free cat food, but according to Collin, "She'd stand in the doorway, tell us to get off her property, say she was calling the police and shut the door on us."
The Times Union reports officials say she seemed to fit the profile of a hoarder. Mayo Clinic explains:
"Hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets often in unsanitary conditions.
"People who hoard often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. But intensive treatment can help people who hoard understand their compulsions and live safer, more enjoyable lives."
According to neighbors, Vandyke lost her spouse, a restaurant cook, two year ago. He died at the age of 47 in December 2010. The Times union reports that neighbors say the loss of her husband may have intensified her urge to hoard cats. According to Mayo Clinic: "A person may hoard items that he or she feels possess emotional significance and serve as a reminder of happier times."
Although Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond has sympathy for the widow, he thinks she should be charged. He is concerned about what led to the death of the cats stored in her freezer. The Inquisitr reports Desmond said: "We felt sorry for her and bad for the kittens at the same time … I’d like to see her charged."
According to AP, authorities are considering charges to bring against her.
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