New Minas woman banned from owning animals for life in hoarding case

A woman in New Minas, N.S. has been banned from owning animals or living with any for the rest of her life after the SPCA seized 18 cats in a home described by investigators as "severely hoarded with debris."

The SPCA says it received a tip from the public and went to the home, where they found more than a dozen animals with no access to food or water.

"The house inside was so completely hoarded, it was several feet high in some circumstances, so we weren't able to physically go in and pick up the cats and leave," said Jo-Anne Landsburg, chief inspector with the SPCA. "They were afraid."

Instead, staff had to set humane traps in the house. It took nearly four months to catch 18 cats. 

Investigators also uncovered remains of three other animals.

The woman pleaded guilty to the charge of causing an animal to be in distress under the province's Animal Protection Act. A judge issued the lifetime ban this week.

Landsburg says she was satisfied with the punishment. She says the woman moved out of the house right before the investigation began and then adopted more cats.

"In this case, we had no reason to believe that this situation would rectify on its own," she said. "We had no reason to believe that they would stop this."

The cats faced a long list of medical treatment for their ailments which the SPCA says included parasitic infestation, malnutrition and amputation. In all, the medical bills totalled $11,100.

"It took a really long time," Landsburg said of their rehabilitation. "But fortunately the live animals that we did take in, they were all adopted out."

She says it's discouraging and sad to see situations escalate to this point. She says the woman's family could have reached out to the SPCA before it reached the point that someone from the public had to get involved.

"We have cases such as this, probably three or four times a year to that extent," said Landsburg.