Sunday, November 12, 2006

Time For An Ark

Kennels and empty animal cages litter the front of 70-year-old Sandra Bauernfeind’s home on Brittman Road in Bethel last month. Bauernfeind has at least 30 small dogs at her home and feeds about 80 feral cats. At one point, Bauernfeind had more than 60 dogs in her home. (Photo Times Herald-Record/MICHELE HASKELL)

Can you believe this story? Apparently, some fine American charged with enforcing the rules isn't playing by them.

On animal control issues, Bethel's Animal Control Officer Henni Anker is the law in the fifth-largest town in Sullivan County. But she also runs an illegal animal rescue operation at her home on Gabriel Road. She owns cats, dogs, geese, donkeys, birds. She owns a bobcat that paces back and forth in a run that's visible from the road. The town of Bethel has no record of the facility....

Sandra Bauernfeind, 70, a retired teacher and the former chairwoman of Sullivan County's Conservative Party, has at least 30 lhasa apsos — a shaggy, small breed of dog — living with her in a ranch home. She says she once bred the animals. Once, she had more than 60. She also feeds about 80 feral cats, which live and breed in the woods by her home.

Actually, that's not what makes this story crazy. But here are three things that do:

1. Henni Anker is unregulated. In New York state, anyone can claim to operate an animal shelter, even if the facility is a private home or a dilapidated structure.

2. She also has been fired twice as the shelter manager of the SPCA in Rock Hill, during that organization's frequent internal battles. SPCA officials have called Anker a hoarder, someone who can't stop herself from acquiring more and more animals.

3. With no infrastructure and no state oversight, the system in Sullivan County frequently breaks down. [Then later on in the article] There is nothing in Agriculture and Markets law which requires public disclosure of shelter records.

What makes this article truly mind-numbing is the fact that it's 2,800 words and it's not until the end that we find out about "Randy Frost, author of 'People Who Hoard Animals,' an April 2000 article in the Psychiatric Times." Apparently most hoarders are unmarried and "In a significant number of cases, the hoarders' own homes lacked working plumbing, cooking facilities, heat, electricity or a combination of utilities...." Imagine that.


Post a Comment

<< Home