SPCA: Animal hoarder found dead inside West Islip home

Police say an animal hoarder was found dead Wednesday night in her West Islip home.

Authorities say 67-year-old Linda Ruland was found dead inside 158 Altmar Ave., which was packed with animals living in deplorable conditions.

Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross says the stench was so bad that animal control officers had to wear hazmat suits to remove the animals.

During the rescue, officers learned Ruland had another house on Sunrise Highway that was also filled with animals. Authorities say they found 35 animals at the two houses, including dogs, cats and pigeons. Eight of the cats were dead.

"She was running between the two houses where her sister had passed away about four years ago," says Gross. "She was taking care of both houses, trying to take care of the animals. I guess it became an impossible task."

The Suffolk SPCA says Ruland's two dogs were given to a neighbor and the three pigeons were taken to an animal refuge.

A spokesman for the Town of Islip released a statement that said, "This was a very unfortunate circumstance and the result of years of hoarding."

The statement also says 22 cats that were turned over to a shelter were "beyond medical treatment, feral and unadoptable." Those cats were "mercifully euthanized" as per the recommendation of the veterinary technician.

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