Woman lived with thousands of rats in animal hoarding casePosted: Updated:
COCONINO COUNTY – Animal hoarding is on the rise in Arizona and while it's usually dogs or cats that people collect in large numbers, one woman's love for rats led her to keeping thousands of them in her home.
It happened in Coconino County and while health officials won't name the woman involved, they say she had thousands of pet rats in her home, each one with its own special name.
"She knew that it had gotten out of control but she could not bring herself to deal with it,” Marlene Gaither says.
She is talking about thousands of rats a Coconino County woman called family. Gaither is with the Coconino County Public Health Services District and talked about the unusual case at a seminar at Arizona State University Wednesday.
"That many rats would go through several 50-pounds dog foods a night. Fifty-pound bags of dog food a night," Gaither says.
She says the rats weren't the only creatures the woman hoarded. She also kept large numbers of tarantulas and hissing cockroaches as roommates and her neighbors finally had enough.
"The homeowner’s association was having a problem with the smell from the house and this is a very respectable, nice neighborhood,” Gaither says.
She says a number of agencies had no choice but to join forces in getting rid of many of the rats, spiders and cockroaches and cleaning up the smelly, damaged home.
The home the woman shared with the rats, cockroaches and tarantulas was lost to foreclosure and Gaither says it was gutted and thoroughly cleaned.
She also says if animal hoarders don't get help, in 100 percent of the cases they go back to collecting animals.
This woman in Coconino County may be doing that now in another state.