Saturday, January 28, 2012

Alexa's Surgery

Last week, Alexa went to vist Dr John and he determined that her eye had to be removed.

Dr. John called today to say that Alexa's eye removal surgery went well. It seems she had an untreated eye infection at some point which caused her eye to become glaucomatis - it never would have gotten better.

Lost in a mass of other cats and suffering, Alexa would have continued to suffer in the hoarder's house. However, she was pulled and she got into foster care. Now thanks to Joa’s Arc, Alexa's attentive foster mom, Joyce, and the wonderful Dr. John, Alexa is finally on her way to living a pain-free life for the first time in her whole little life!

Her foster mom, Joyce, wrote: "Can't wait to pick her up tomorrow! Can wait to see the bill..."

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Here is Zuni (formally Taylor) with his sister Daisey. He's got another furry sibling in his new home too.

Zuni came from the hoarding house, was pretty scared at first ... and look at him now!!

Thank you Finally Home Farm for rescuing Taylor/Zuni. Thank you for helping to socialize him, make him feel safe and for giving him a chance to have such a "happy tail".

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In Joyce's Words

Since she did such a fantastic job last night, I'm going to give you the quick explanation of the house in Joyce's words:

Now that the show has aired, my contract with Animal Planet regarding the show is over, we were not allowed to talk publicly about it until it aired.

Joa’s Arc is run by three people: Jennifer Miles Smith, Jen Wesh and myself. We rescue special need animals.

A local rescuer met Marie's boyfriend at a store buying tons of cat food and struck up a conversation with him. He asked Tina V for help. She went to the house and called me knowing it was such a big rescue.

I went over and was shocked. The two Jens came over and I promised Marie we would save them, not really knowing how to do it, but I swear the cats were begging for help through their eyes. Paula D from AWA/STAF was there too and she in turn got help with spay/neutering the cats. I contacted Nancy W , the local ACO, to inform her of the situation knowing she had to know what was going on and that she would help.

I contacted Animal Planet knowing we needed help. All of us working endlessly taking pics of the cats, posting them as you all saw during the summer and taking them to the clinic for surgery. We had to wait for Animal Planet to decide if they could help.

Before Animal Planet came on scene in July, we had already placed about 60 cats. During the filming of the show, roughly 110 cats were removed. We ran out of rescues so about 18 cats remained in the house after "the big removal".

One of the cats gave birth that night to a litter of kittens. They were pulled immediately and went to Tina. In the meanwhile, we started working on placement for the remaining cats. We removed them all by November. including 11 more kittens. One kitten was paralyzed and died. Another was extremely sick and after two weeks I couldn't save her and she died. So the true total was just under 200.

The show has given Marie the option for counseling forever if she decides she wants it. She has not taken the offer as of now, but I hope she changes her mind.

Marie took 12 cats off the streets initially and, since most were not spay/neutered, they all bred creating this situation. The show should have stressed the importance of spaying because this could all have been avoided.

She is still dealing with municipal charges and the city housing department will be monitoring her home to assure it doesn't happen again. She still lives in the house, AP helped with repairs to the livingroom but it is up to her to complete the repairs upstairs.

Without intervention, repeat rate is 100% so I pray she gets help. It was mentioned in the show that Marie did this back in 1997. All the animals were removed back then and euthanized which was so sad - they were never given the chance. Besides the cats being the victims, her daughter Vicky was a victim. I was so worried about her last night, knowing her secret was going to be exposed. Vicky has been thru a lot and I pray she finds the strength to deal with this.

This was truly a group effort by many rescues and shelters. I am so proud we all came together for the sake of the animals and proved it can be done.

Feel free to look back into our blog. Now that our contract is done, we'll be adding back dated posts which include a lot of pictures and information. This was a huge, big task that took a lot of time, effort, emotion and teamwork!

Thank you to everyone that was involved and thank you for all your support for our group and these cats.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

More Than What It Seems

Lots of comments have been made about how the cats looked healthy, how they looked cared for, that they were lovable, etc.

There were a handful or so of friendly, mostly healthy cats. That's true. Actually, there are often pets like this in just about any hoarder's house. Hoarders don't usually start with dozens and dozens of pets - there is often a small, "original group" which at one point got their own individual, they were loved, socialized and cared for... at one point.

Like in most hoarding situations though, underneath the healthy looking pets were ones who were anything but well or even properly cared for. In this house, aside from the friendly, healthy cats, there were:

    - cats with eye injuries
    - cats withpainful genetic eye deformities
    - several cats with chronic URIs (imagine a raw, runny nose or crusty eyes all the time)
    - females constantly lactating because kittens that weren't even theirs were nursing on them
    - 2 rooms of "families" of cats closed in there all the time interbreeding with each other with barely a fan to circulated the hot summer air
    - cats with injuries going untreated
    - bugs by or in the food
    - unfixed tomcats marking (peeing on) everything
    - a kitten born paraplegic just wriggling in all the filth

Could the cats have been sicker? Yes.

Could they have been starving? Yup.

But this house absolutely was not simply a herd of cats that we felt was 'too many'.

This house also completely drained our rescue. Although many people kindly donated to help out, things like the flea covered, sick kittens we removed at the end of October and Alexa's requiring her eye to be removed, cleaned up out. We have no money for the special needs animals still in our care. Please consider donating so we can keep up the work we do:

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You can also send a donation to our PO Box

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Post Show - Cats Still In Need

Did you catch us on TV last night?!

Joa’s Arc was part of the show Confession: Animal Hoarding which aired on Animal Planet last night at 10pm. In the next few days, you'll be able to find out more information on the house, the cats, more of the hard work and team work involved in this big effort on our blog when back dated posts are added to our blog here.

For now though, we wanted to highlight some of the cats still in need. Below is a list of some who are still available for adoption even months after they were removed from the hoarder's house.

All of these cats have adorable faces and all of them are certainly in need. However, before considering the adoption of one of these cats, know that a lot of them come with a bit of "baggage". These cats were almost all born, raised and lived in a home where they were just another cat lost in the mass of so many.

The chronic stress of crowded conditions leads to psychological issues in animals. They sometimes need a bit of extra effort to litterbox train them once in a home, especially after coming from an environment where a clean litterbox was probably hard to find, going to the bathroom on the floor was the norm and carpet doesn't allow a cat to "cover up" their mess. Hoarded animals may also show extreme shyness or aggression when physical contact is attempted. These cats are used to living around other animals though, so these cats will probably be good in a home with another cat or two (or dog, there was a big dog in the house too!)

Still interested in one of these TV stars? Here are a few still looking for a home of their own:

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Words From Joyce

Today, Joyce M of Joa’s Arc wrote:

Dear Friends,

Tonight our episode airs on Animal Planet and I know you are aware of it.

What I want from you is to learn from this episode:

    - the animals from hoarding situations do NOT need to be euthanized. They can be saved regardless of how many. Rescues and shelters need to come together to accomplish this. Our episode proves it can be done.
    - Hoarding is a psych issue. I believe it is a component of OCD. With help, it can be controlled. Don't point the finger at her, she needed help and it is available to her, let's hope she gets it.
    - Although the animals are the victims, there are other victims in these situation ... the family members. This will touch your heart and make you realize that hoarding is harmful to the family and everyone involved.
    - Help is available out there if you know someone in this situation. Speak up, don't walk away.
    - Spay/neutering is not an option, it is a must!!

We have learned a lot by doing this rescue and it will be very emotional for all of us as it was all the weeks working on it. Personally, I have grown and learned a lot from this, I hope you do to.

Don't miss us tonight at 10pm on Animal Planet's Confessions: Animal Hoarding

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Joa's Arc on TV Tomorrow

Tomorrow night, the Confessions: Animal Hoarding episode featuring Joa’s Arc help will be on Animal Planet.

Here are some still shots from the website to give you an early glimpse. (We'll be posting our own photos and information after the show airs)

Make sure to set your recording devices or set a reminder so you can tune in tomorrow night!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guppy Update

Here's an update on Guppy, the kitten we first mentioned in this post.

Well, Guppy is in foster care and has received surgery to remove her deformed leg!

Her super amazing foster mom wrote, "here's Guppy after her surgery!!! All went well. She's doing fantastic and quite the lovable smooch. Absolutely my all time favorite."

We are so happy that little Guppy found somewhere safe to go and someone willing to help her continue thriving!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

An Update on The First Family

Deb wrote: To make sure that the kittens were social, I made sure they were played with and handled every day.

The kittens in Deb and Lakota's care grew up quickly and were all named Native American tribal names like their mom. They all were spayed/neutered, micro chipped, vaccinated and adopted in to new homes.

About Lakota though, Deb said, "Because Lakota never received one-on-one human contact growing up in the hoarder's house though, she was not interested in being petted or handled by anyone. As much as I tried to work with her, she barely tolerated me when I cleaned her crate and bedding every day.

What do you do with a mom cat that doesn’t want to have human contact yet isn’t feral? There is not an oasis on some farm for cats like her. I really grappled with that decision and finally came to the only compassionate conclusion that I could live with – to allow her to live out her life, on her terms, in my home.

Again, Deb proves herself to be a wonderful person. This decision of hers is not one made lightly. Deb knows that this will at times be very difficult for both she and Lakota. For example, if Lakota gets sick or needs veterinary care, it’s not going to be easy to handle her.

Deb: "People who are hoarders think they are doing the animals a favor by keeping them, but the animals are usually unsocial, sickly and breeding goes unchecked. We can fix sickly and we can spay & neuter, them but it’s much harder to fix an unfriendly adult. Because of that unsocial behavior, rescues and shelters aren’t able to re-home them successfully without putting a lot of work into these cats.

In the end, the hoarders didn’t do the animals any service by keeping them; in fact, the reality is just the opposite. But for Lakota and her kittens, it will at least be a happy ending.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wonderful Update from Debbie R

Friend of Joa’s Arc, Debbie R, wrote to us last night about two of the cats she ended up with from the hoarder's house. Deb wrote:

I just wanted to give you the final chapter regarding "Nelson", one of the last cats to come out of the hoarder house who was estimated to be about 3 years old and "Lakota", the first cat to come out with the eight kittens.

Nelson was not neutered and all four eyelids suffered from entropian (they think he had the painful eyelid issue his whole life). My vet neutered him during an initial examination and another vet in the office did the entropian surgery a few weeks later.

Since then, Nelson has come out of his shell. He lives freely in my (heated) garage among the other somewhat "unadoptable" kitties. He doesn't come to me but I can tell that he is so much happier. His eyes are open almost fully open, more than they ever were able to open. He now tries to play with the other cats and enjoys bouncing around the catnip mouse. I think he has just discovered toys because he acts "kitten-ish". He also head butts the other cats and rolls over playfully. He knows the shaking of the treat jar and comes running when he hears it. He spends his days sleeping near the heater or perched high on one of the five cat trees looking out the window.

Although his "friend" was released into my colony, I don't feel that Nelson is feral enough nor sees well enough to live on his own outside. So I have made the decision that although he doesn't want human contact (thank you very much, hoarder house lady), I will let him live his life out with me and the "unadoptables". I continue to talk to him and coax him to come to me and hope that some day he will trust humans.

"Lakota" is similar to "Nelson" in that she's not feral but doesn't need human contact. She, too, will live her life with the "unadoptables".

I truly am in awe of all that you ladies do on a daily basis and for the effort that you put forth in this hoarding situation. I don't think you got the recognition in this situation that you deserve when others swooped in for the glory. But I know you were willing to deal with that if the animals were safe and for that, I admire you.

Debbie also sent the recent photos included in this post of Nelson and Lakota in her email. Look how wonderful Nelson's eyes look!

I wrote back to Deb and I told her how wonderful she was - wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! I expressed to her that although the lives these cats lead before us breaks my heart, I am happy these cats found their way to someone as caring and thoughtful as Debbie.

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Monday, January 9, 2012


A personal friend of Joa’s Arc volunteer, Jen W, recently wrote a book on losing a pet and dealing with the loss. In preparing to write this book, this friend spoke with lots of pet parents, owners and fans. He also took accounts from rescuers.

"A pet is a companion, a loyal friend, a playmate, and, for some, a soul mate. So when your beloved pet dies, the grief can be overwhelming. It's so easy to fall intro the traps of sadness and guilt: Did I make the right decision? What will I do without my pet? Will the pain ever end?

Written with compassion and understanding, When You Lose the Pet You Love will help you understand the grieving process and get you through the difficult times, including making tough decisions, discussing the loss with your family, and providing creative ideas for remembering your pet - and moving on."

Joa’s Arc currently only has 11 books available and for a donation of $8, you can get one of these books for yourself. Best of all, 100% of the proceeds will go directly to Joa’s Arc thanks to the author and friend kindly donating these 11 books to us!

There was quite a bit of interest in them when the possibility of getting them was mentioned, so if you're interested, I'd suggest getting an email out to us ( quickly to reserve yours!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Starting back in July of 2011, Joa's Arc discovered a cat hoarding situation. Although Joa's Arc mainly rescues special needs shelter animals, our volunteers were some of the first to gain the trust of the home owners. From that day, Joa’s Arc worked endless hours for several months for the sake of the cats - raising funds to get some of the cats fixed, treating several cats with special needs, finding donations of food, taking over toys for the cats, fostering cats and networking to find homes for as many as possible.

Following just a few trips to this house of cats, Joa’s Arc volunteers realized that saving all the cats would take a great deal of team work. After saying the words, "We will save them all. We have to," Joa's Arc's own Joyce Moyer reached out to Confessions: Animal Hoarding. Now, Joa’s Arc can finally announce that these cats were rescued thanks to a lot of hard work, kind people, teamwork and Animal Planet's Confessions: Animal Hoarding.

Partner organizations Almost Home Animal Shelter, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, the Humane Society of Atlantic County and the AWA assisted in the rescue of 165 cats. Finally Home Farm and the AWA also assisted in fostering and placing several feral cats from this house as well. It was an amazing, heart wrenching experience, but worth it because, in the end, these cats were saved!

The story will air on Animal Planet's new hit series Confessions: Animal Hoarding. The series explores stories of people who own more pets then they can care for. The problem of animal hoarding is little understood, but far more common than most people realize. There are over 3000 reported cases a year, and at least ten times that number that go unreported. The series brings families together to voluntarily find humane solutions that work for both pets and people. If you know someone who might be an animal hoarder, you can learn more at

Big Announcement part:The story Joa's Arc participated in is scheduled to air Friday, January 27, 2012 @10pm EST and PST.

We are asking you to please promote this show to highlight the plight of animals in situations like this. At the end of the day, these animals need help and it is up to us to find it for them.

More updates on the house coming soon following the show's air date. Tweet This

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!

A new year - a new opportunity to help more shelters, help more animals, save more special lives and make new friends who share the same goals!

As we reflect back on 2011, we see so many accomplishments and happy tails...

Besides caring for our special needs animals like Wil, Faulk, Mia and Gabe (who are still available for adoption), Joa's Arc was actively involved in a huge cat hoarding situation for several months! Joyce M, Jen S and Jen W were some of the very first people to become involved with this house at the very beginning and it has to this day remained a stressful, demanding situation. Because we were so wrapped up with this hoarding house for so long, we were very slow on adoptions this year and, of course, each ended up with some of these cats in our homes at one point. Stay tuned for info about this whole ordeal soon!

Gabriel got surgery, healed up and was finally available for adoption this year! Joa's Arc rescued Gabriel, a 4 year old hound boy, who was found on the side of a road after being hit by a car in the south. Although we mainly rescue shelter animals in South Jersey, Gabe had not one, but two incidents making him a more than usual desperate case. Although another rescue down south initially took him in, had his leg casted and placed him in foster care... Gabe chewed off his cast in anxiety after another dog decided he didn’t like Gabriel and nearly tore off Gabe's entire ear! After surgery to staple his ear back in place, this rescue reached out for help and Joa’s Arc agreed to take Gabriel.

Gabe came to New Jersey and had surgery on his broken leg, which was some sort of rare break that the seasoned orthopedic vet we took Gabe to said he had never personally seen before. After months of rehab and vet care, Gabe is good as new now though! He is a goofy, loving, sweet hound who loves everyone including dogs and cats. We have one final step to accomplish in his recovery and that is to find him a loving forever home, preferably with another dog he can play with.

Joa's Arc also recently pulled two kittens, Guppy and Gizmo, from a local shelter. Gizmo has some serious eye deformities and and ulcer in her one eye. Guppy has a deformed back leg and tail, though it's hard to tell because this vocal, little munchkin gets around really well! Thanks to networking and some kind people stepping up to help us help them, both kittens are now safe in foster care.

Right before the holidays, two very special cats found themselves happy in homes - Maizey the CH kitty and Inferno, a blind, older cat who was in a local shelter.

We can't forget about Savior and Sal either! A very nice person found Savior, an all white adult male cat, and Sal, an all black male kitten, all by themselves in an empty apartment. This odd pair were both suffering from neglect - skinny and sick. Joa's Arc was able to help get the two cleaned up, back to health and both neutered. Through this all, we found that Savior and Sal had an incredible bond together... and we completed their story with us the only way we knew how - by finding them a loving home together!

Talk about a transformation!!

Joa's Arc has helped many special needs (and normal) animals this year, with some still waiting to be adopted. It is thanks to your help and support that we've been able to accomplish so much! With your continued support, we look forward to whatever 2012 holds for us.

Here's to a happy, healthy, life-saving 2012! Tweet This