In Shelby NC local authorities took a woman into custody who had been hoarding animals. For years neighbors had complained to local animal control whose visits had caused the woman to fear losing her animals. Her response was to bring all of the animals into her home and board up windows to stop them from getting out and possibly being taken away. The paper cited that investigators entered her home and found she had over 90 live animals in the home. Additionally over fifty animals were found dead stacked in containers. The findings resulted in arrest of the 59 year old woman.
The paper went on to explain that most of the animals were sickly and were under vet evaluation and being place in state run animal shelters. The article did not state anything about the woman’s evaluation of her mental health stating instead that she was incarcerated. Unquestionably a person who shuts them self up in a house with over 90 living and 50 dead animals has a mental disorder. Rita Rubin wrote an article in the USA Today where she quoted several mental health care professionals and national association studies stating the overall theme that a mentally ill person was more likely to go to jail than be hospitalized. While the mistreatment of animals is a crime and must be addressed, it seems the baby is being thrown out with the bath water in this case. Not only should the government authorities be coming to the rescue of those pitiful animals but this mentally ill woman should have been taken by court order to a hospital for treatment for the illness that caused her to behave this way.
As a society we do not condemn a physically handicapped person to prison for their unfortunate circumstance. As a society America must realize the unfortunate circumstance of the mentally ill. Previously unpublished data from a 2004-2005 Department of Health and Human Services and the Bureau of Justice was quotes in the previously mentioned USA Today article as showing very discouraging news on the availability of psychiatric beds. The data showed one bed for every 300 Americans in 1955 while in 2005 it was reported that there was one psychiatric bed for every 3,000 Americans. Even law enforcement agencies are seeking help with what to do with the mentally ill. Disadvantaged neighborhoods and homeless shelters are filled with the untreated or under treated mentally ill and until their illness are address and treated with lifetime plan of care solutions they will continue to have run-ins with local authorities who have no avenues other that jail time for them.