Judge orders known hoarder to stay away from animals

Linda Giaccio's mental health challenge results in criminal charges

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – For at least a decade, Linda Teresa Giaccio has likely been tortured with a mental health condition that has landed her in court in front of a judge once again.

Experts say the 69-year-old woman's behavior is characteristic of an obsessive compulsion. And she is likely hurting animals even when she thinks she is helping them, records show. 

In 2001, her habitual animal hoarding made the pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer, after authorities in South Carolina described her van as a "rolling litter box" with an overpowering stench. 

Giaccio reportedly took dozens of cats with her on a road trip to Philadelphia for a court appearance related to accusations that she had abused horses.


In Charleston, she was accused of causing the death of at least three cats. 

Giaccio hasn't stop hurting animals since. A compulsion characterized by denial likely sent her back to jail on Friday.

After spending the night in jail, a judge ordered Giaccio to stay away from animals and set her bond at $25,000 on Saturday.  

It's likely that Giaccio won't be able to stay away from animals unless she gets help. 

Karen L. Cassiday, a clinical psychologist who specializes on anxiety, believes animal hoarders have an intense emotional attachment to the animals in their care. She says "crazy cat ladies" are usually just women in need of mental health care. 

According to Cassiday "their behavior helps them avoid the pain of letting go of things that seem very special, even when the clutter prevents comfortable living." 

In April, local officials accused her of "maintaining animals in an environment of unsanitary conditions causing an offensive odor" at her home, 2230 NE 38th Street.

There was also no running water or electricity at the home. 

Cassiday was facing five counts of causing cruel death and pain and suffering to an animal. Authorities said this time she was neglecting about 60 cats. They found six dead cats and seven abused dogs.

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