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Rescued from Squalor

A house full of dogs provides a glimpse into the delusional world of animal hoarders

The blue lights of a sheriff’s black cruiser blaze through the early spring drizzle, flashing a signal of caution to any cars approaching the modest, ranch-style house on this rural road in Preston, Miss.

Such passersby are infrequent; the road is isolated, the piney woods around it stretching into the distance. But if you were to be driving by this morning, you would see a small woman—middle-aged, blond, perhaps once pretty—standing in the driveway between two officers from the sheriff ’s department. She is crying, pleading with them. Her face is crumpled and exhausted. The officers have their hands on her arms, restraining her.

Like a river moving around a boulder in its path, a half dozen grim-faced emergency responders in dark blue rain jackets and rubber boots divide and trudge past the officers, heading toward the woman’s house.

If you saw this from the road, from a distance, what would you feel? Confusion? Pity for the woman, who is crying as though her heart might break?

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