Hoarding

Aug 07, 2013 | Guest Author

Christine Connolly
Town of Arlington Health and Human Services, Massachusetts
August 7, 2013

My name is Christine Connolly and I am the Director of Health and Human Services for the Town of Arlington, MA. I have been with the department for over twelve years and have a background in public health.

Ten years ago my office began receiving calls and complaints from residents that lived next door to a decrepit home in a well-established part of town. The callers reported that the home was falling apart, they saw rats coming from the property, the garage was overflowing with furniture and debris and the grass was overgrown.

For years the property owner refused to allow inspectors from my office to enter the home. It wasn’t until two staff from the Department of Public Works (DPW) entered the home to turn off water due to a major leak in the water line, that we were able to understand the extent of the issues on the inside of the property. The DPW staff immediately contacted my office to report the conditions of the property and to explain their concerns about the animals living inside. At the same time, the Animal Control Officer called to report that he had captured two pug dogs that had escaped from the home. We determined that in order to release the dogs to the owner we required that the owner allow our department in to inspect to ensure a safe environment for the dogs.

The owner was reluctant to allow an inspection but wanted to have her dogs back so she agreed to the inspection. Once we entered the home, we knew that we had entered one of the worst hoarded homes that we had ever come across. The home was filled with debris, garbage, fecal matter and animals. The entire attic was filled with bird cages that contained carcasses of dead birds. In the end we were able to have the home cleared out, the owner was placed in a nursing home and the property was made safe. During the clean out process, the company that was hired to conduct the work reported that there were so many rats living in the property that they had to use shovels to swat the rats away as they shoveled debris. We also learned that the mattress that the owner slept on contained a rat nest with multiple rats.

This was one of the most disturbing hoarding cases handled by my office in the 12 years that I have been with the department. As a result of this case, we have worked more closely with our police and fire departments to establish a local hoarding taskforce with input from the Boston University School of Social Work and a mental health clinician that works in the police department. This taskforce was designed to deal with hoarding cases in town which regularly pose a threat to police and fire as well as our community.


NACCHO logo small version02 square N pms321

About Guest Author

NACCHO periodically invites guest authors to write first-person accounts of their work in public health. To submit your own story for consideration, please visit our form.

More posts by Guest Author

0 Comments

Related Posts

Toddlers outside i Stock 485737780
  • Tools & Resources
  • Healthy Living & Prevention
  • Parks

Greener Parks for Health

National Recreation and Park Association releases new Greener Parks for Health...

Jul 13, 2020

Greener Parks for Health

CDC QCS Graphic
  • Tools & Resources
  • Webinar
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis

Informational Webinar: STD Quality Clinical Services...

Informational webinar for the STD QCS Planning Toolkit to Support Use of CDC’s...

Jul 13, 2020 | Rebekah Horowitz

Informational Webinar: STD Quality Clinical Services...

Webinar
  • Webinar
  • Immunization
  • Maternal, Child, & Adolescent Health

Webinar: Delays in HPV Cancer Diagnoses and Treatment in...

Residents of rural areas have a higher cancer mortality, particularly for...

Jul 10, 2020 | Kimberly Sharpe-Scott

Webinar: Delays in HPV Cancer Diagnoses and Treatment in...

COVID VC Screenshot
  • COVID-19
  • Tools & Resources
  • Emergency Response
  • Infectious Disease

NACCHO’s COVID-19 Virtual Community Now Available to All...

NACCHO has opened our COVID-19 Virtual Community to all local health department...

Jul 08, 2020 | Kim Rodgers

NACCHO’s COVID-19 Virtual Community Now Available to All...

Sync2020 logos horizontal 1024x304
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis

Scholarships Available: SYNChronicity 2020 Conference –...

SYNC 2020, the National Conference for HIV, HCV, STI and LGBTQ Health, is...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

Scholarships Available: SYNChronicity 2020 Conference –...

  • COVID-19
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis
  • Research & Reports

Kaiser Family Foundation: Reduction in Sexual and...

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new issue brief, Potential Impacts of...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

Kaiser Family Foundation: Reduction in Sexual and...

2000px US CDC logo
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis

New Recommendations for Hepatitis Vaccination

CDC has released new recommendations for hepatitis A virus (HAV) vaccination,...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

New Recommendations for Hepatitis Vaccination

TAG Logo
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis
  • Research & Reports

Treatment Action Group 2020 Pipeline Report Now Available

Treatment Action Group (TAG) recently published their 2020 Pipeline Report, an...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

Treatment Action Group 2020 Pipeline Report Now Available

Pr EP injectable
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis
  • Research & Reports

New Study: Injectable PrEP is Safe and Highly Effective

New data further shows an injectable antiretroviral for HIV pre-exposure...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

New Study: Injectable PrEP is Safe and Highly Effective

Back to Top