BY BRIAN EDSALL
Shock is the prevailing emotion described by neighbors and professionals who learned of an animal hoarding case in Stony Point.
Jerome Adler, 75, was discovered living in deplorable conditions with about 20 adult huskies as well as at least five animal carcasses believed to be dogs inside and outside of the home. The home was deemed unsafe for human habitation and has since been condemned.
The discovery was made on June 22 by the Hudson Valley Humane Society, which worked in conjunction with dog control officers from Stony Point, Haverstraw and Orangetown as well as the Stony Point Town Building Department, fire inspector, the Rockland County Department of Health and the Adult Protective Services.
According to Marc Kissel, Chief of Department in the HVHS law enforcement division, evidence for the search warrant was acquired through witnesses in early June who heard barking dogs and noticed horrible smells.
Annmarie Gaudio, president of the HVHS and law enforcement officer on the case, made first-hand observations which would ultimately lead her to leave a notice to comply at Adler’s home.
“Agent Gaudio rescued two dogs which were tied together under some debris, unable to move and access food or water,” said Kissel. “She knocked on the door and there was no response, but she could smell urine and feces and the distinct smell of rotting flesh.”
Kissel stated that what was found was worse than expected. At this point the investigation is ongoing but, the HVHS is currently caring for the dogs which were seized.
Gaudio stated that Adler was acquiring dogs from throughout the United States which led him to become infamous with animal care professionals in the Rockland County community and beyond.
“I worked at Hi Tor Animal Care Center from 2010-2012 and was aware of his efforts to obtain Siberian Huskies,” said Wendy Dorothy. “He would repeatedly call the executive director using a different caller ID name…she knew of his bad reputation and refused any adoption efforts from him. He became abusive and vulgar towards her, and she told him that she would involve the authorities if he did not stop calling.”
“I am in contact with Pike County Humane Society in PA and their staff are aware of him,” added Dorothy. “I have also found a Yahoo Groups thread on the internet where he was pulling a dog from Ohio in 2009…he is bad news”
“I run a list known as the Oklahoma do not adopt list,” added Jamie Cope, President at Broken Arrow Rescue in Oklahoma. “I made a post warning people because he was collecting dogs from all over the United States using this transport service known as Greg’s Transport…I have never personally dealt with Mr. Adler, but another rescuer in Oklahoma said he had called and harassed her about getting dogs.”
“I feel like there’s more to the story, and I would say that there could have been hundreds of dogs over the years,” added Cope.
Ina Woodward, who has been Adler’s neighbor for many years, stated that she was always suspicious of what was happening next door. “The howling was going on all night, but you never saw many dogs come in or out. He had about three dogs that he would bring out, but that was it,” said Woodward. “I just couldn’t believe it when I found out.”
Another neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that there was a horrible odor which could be smelled by simply walking by the house. This neighbor also added that Adler mostly stayed to himself, but it was clear that he suffered from mental health issues.
Michigan resident Jenifer Simbeni claims to have reported Adler to the New York authorities. She complained that the Humane Society and local police did not take her tips seriously enough. “He should’ve been followed up on and then checked on from time to time and somebody dropped the ball on that…I first called the police to report this in the middle of April. It took until now for somebody to do something about it, with me constantly calling to urge them to take action. In addition, I was lied to by a Hudson Valley official ‘handling’ the case,” she claimed.
Lt. Hylas of the Stony Point PD said in an email to the Rockland County Times, “Police have responded to several calls related to barking and loose dogs over the past couple of months. The Hudson Valley Humane Society was asked to follow up starting late April. We assisted them with the search warrant and condemned the house…Any charges would be drawn and filed by HVHS.”
Hylas explained that Humane Society officials have peace officer status and the organization is tasked with drawing up charges in cases like Mr. Adler’s.
Though animal hoarding itself is not classified as a mental health problem, it is widely accepted that animal hoarders may suffer from a variety of different mental health problems including attachment disorders, paranoia, delusional thinking, depression, dementia and OCD, among others. By definition, animal hoarding does not simply mean owning many animals. Rather, these animals are not cared for which often lead to neglect, disease and even death. It is unknown if Adler suffered from any mental health problems or what his motives were for hoarding these animals.
Animal hoarding and animal abuse in general has become a serious problem throughout the United States and the Rockland County area as well. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 250,000 animals fall victim to animal hoarding annually. In 2016, the HVHS seized 69 animals from a private home in Garnerville, NY and they have handled other cases of animal abuse in Rockland County – including dog fighting, mutilation, and selling sick animals – over the years.
Animal care professionals emphasize taking precaution when it comes to selling animals. There are sites – such as rehome.adoptapet.com – which are much safer than sites such as Facebook or Craigslist. Additionally, neutering and spaying the animals before adoption will ensure that they will not be sold to puppy mills. People who have suspicions of animal abuse are encouraged to contact the HVHS at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-354-3124.
Dylan Skriloff and Kathy Kahn contributed to this report