A Brooklyn woman has agreed to give up five of the 18 pit bulls she has been keeping in her home, part of an arrangement with the ASPCA after agents looked into a possible case of animal hoarding at her home last week.
The 57-year-old woman had 13 adult pit bulls living in her backyard and basement, and five one-month-old puppies inside the house, according to the ASPCA.
"She was well-intentioned in her actions but she was on the path to becoming quickly overwhelmed," said ASPCA spokesman Bret Hopman.
Hopman said the woman, originally from Tobago, grew up on 72 acres of land and with 27 dogs that were used primarily to hunt wild game.
After moving into Brooklyn, "the first dog she brought in was back in 2003," said Hopman. "She found him near her neighborhood and it appeared he had been a victim of dogfighting. Soon after, she encountered another pit bull stray and brought her in, too.
"Neither dog was spayed or neutered, so they ended up mating," he said. "Eventually the owner ended up with 18 dogs."
The ASPCA found the woman's living conditions and the conditions of the dogs were acceptable, but "there was a very high likelihood that her situation could have escalated into a larger-scale crisis," said Hopman.
Workers from the ASPCA's two-year-old program Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) stepped in to help the woman get proper care for the dogs. The ASPCA's mobile unit arrived at the woman's home Jan. 26 to spay and neuter a number of the adult dogs.
The five puppies will also be spayed and neutered, and put up for adoption when they are of the appropriate age, said Hopman.
"The owner cares tremendously for the dogs," said Hopman. "She loves them as if they were her children and she says they love her as if she was their mother."
The hope is that through education, spay and neuter services and routine follow-ups, the animals get the proper care they need.
"The main goal of the program is to help correct potentially dangerous situations and to educate people about their actions," said Hopman.
"All CIA cases are closely monitored within the Human Law Enforcement Department so that if a situation deteriorates and requires criminal intervention, we're prepared to take the necessary steps," said Hopman.