How do I get the state to leave my mother alone?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 11, 2016
Justinian27 asked...

What she has done is not as bad as they make it look. My mother is age 54 and is an extreme hoarder. She began hoarding 10 years ago when my father killed himself. Over the years I have battle with this habit, but it only seems to get worse the more I fight it. But, finally she was caught about a month ago. They charged her with animal cruelty for every animal she has in her home, which was 25. They are blowing everything way out of proportion. All she needs is help. But no one wants to help her. They only want her burnt at the stake like she is some witch. The Humane Society is the main people in the way. They took every animal, and have been lying to her about they're whereabouts. They are taking her money, but I know she will never get them back from them. If they are still alive.

The court date is come up. And my mother has told me that if things don't work out that she will kill herself too. I cant loose my mother. No one else understands. If I only had enough money, I could help in the situation. But I seem helpless. What do I do?

Expert Answers

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

Justinian, it is certainly a challenge to face state intervention after losing your father a decade earlier.

Please know, hoarding is a serious issue that affects 2-5% of Americans. Hoarding often starts after a significant event in one’s life—and the suicide of your father appears to be playing a significant role in your mother’s life as she tries to care for animals.

Yet, something must have happened where your mother “was caught.” Know, that each county has their own laws regarding the number of animals allowed per residence—whether she lives in the city or in a rural area, she’d likely need a license to board more than a handful of animals.

You write all she needs is help but no one is willing to help her…yet you note over the years you have battled with the habit and it only gets worse.

It is likely she has been dealing with this for some time and the reason she “was caught” was due to someone reporting her when initial interventions were unsuccessful. Understand, the humane society needs to abide by your state’s guidelines.

If she too is compelled to take her life at the prospect of losing her animals, I’d suggest getting her help from herself by calling adult protective services.

Yes, this is not the answer you wanted to read but the ball has already started rolling and right now, your mother’s safety is of primary importance.

Community Answers

Caringdenise answered...

Thank you Justinian, for sharing about your experience and your mom's situation, and for seeking suggestions here on Thanks also to expert Brenda Avadian for offering guidance. I'd like to add just a few resources that may be helpful as well:

I hope these suggestions are helpful.