Officials in Wright condemned Irene Vandyke's home after she was found to have 99 felines living in crates stacked floor to ceiling in addition to the dead animals. Officials said the woman likely suffers from compulsive hoarding syndrome, a psychological disorder. She worked at a local Walmart and lived alone after her husband of 27 years died unexpectedly in 2010, The (Albany) Times Union said Friday.
Previous attempts to rescue the animals were unsuccessful until Scoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond ordered deputies to intervene when neighbors complained about the overwhelming stench of cat urine and feces coming from the garbage-strewn property.
Kerrie Colin, who runs a local non-profit animal shelter, has taken in the animals. She told the newspaper she'd been aware of Vandyke's cat hoarding for at least two years and had tried at various times to help.
"The minute anyone tried to take her cats, she freaked out and threw them off her property," Colin said. "She definitely had a hoarder mentality. She's not a horrible person. She just needs help and counseling."