Could Animal Hoarder Be Responsible for A Child's Death

Could Animal Hoarder Be Responsible for A Child's Death
Small parrots among the over 200 animals kept in a Berwyn hoarder's home. Could the hoarder be held responsible for her child's death? (photo: Animal Welfare League)

Can animal hoarding animals be deadly?

In Berwyn, paramedics were called about a 14-year old boy who was lying unresponsive on the lawn at the family home, according a Chicago Tribune report by Christy Gutowski,  Clifford Ward and Jim Jaworski.

The boy was taken to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn on Thursday September 8, where he later was pronounced dead. An autopsy Friday determined he died of natural causes related to bronchopneumonia, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

But was there another explanation for the so-called "natural" causes?

It also turned out that this boy lived over 200 animals, amidst feces and an unspeakable amount of dander and dust (from bird feathers) as well as animal feces. Over 100 cats, nearly that many birds, a raccoon, a fruit bat, two dogs and several kinkajous (a tree-dwelling relative of the raccoon from Central and South America). It's unlikely the owners' held an appropriate permit to keep kinkajous or fruit bats.

According to the Tribune report, the boy's mother was being held at the Berwyn police station, though so far, no charges have been filed.

Three of the boy's siblings, ages 12 to 17, were in the custody of the Department of Children of Family Services after being treated for flulike symptoms, authorities said.  A fourth sibling, 18, was being treated at the hospital, said a spokesman for the agency. The children's father has been reportedly imprisoned since 2008 for home invasion while armed with a gun, records show. After he was imprisoned, the children and their mother grew even more detached from other relatives, according to an aunt of the children who lives in Plainfield.

This is stricly concecture on my part. I am not a doctor. But it seems to me that living in close proximity (particularly sleeping day in and day out) so near to so many animals and that dander, dust and animal waste might have caused or contributed to this little boys respiratory problems, which ultimately caused his death.  If so, could the mother responsible for the hoarding be charged for murder?

Could all those animals also explain the flu like symptoms experienced by others in the home?

While hoarding is an illness, and most hoarders intend the best for animals; that is not the case. Living like in cramped quarters is not in the best interest of the animals. In fact, it is inhumane. Caring appropriately for over 200 animals is nearly impossible for one person (even if the children did help). Such living conditions can cause severe stress and  psychological issues for the animals.  If medical care is required, affording it may be difficult since merely feeding so many animals is so costly.

Leave a comment