Animal hoarding leads to a mass burial of 240 dogs

REISTERTOWN, Md - You hope to get those last few moments with your dog, to look right into her eyes as she humanely drifts off to sleep after a full and rich life.

That intensely emotional goodbye to a friend that learned as much from you as inevitably, you realize you did from her.

The memorial park at the Baltimore Humane Society is full of those moments.

Headstones mark thousands of family pets, a peaceful and serene setting now the final resting place of 240 more.

"Knowing they are at rest.  That they weren't just sent to a trash dump, demolished along with the house means something."

Some of them were lucky enough to have names.

The ones Shelley Janashek says hoarder Judy Cahill thought enough to have cremated and deemed her special dogs.

Janashek was a witness against Cahill in the 2009 Montgomery County civil case against the hoarder and the first to see inside the Rockville woman's home.

It was a house of horrors the pictures would show, dog cages where the bars were bent by dogs trying to escape, animal waste everywhere...even trash cans full of canine carcasses.

It is Janashek's belief this went on for 30 years, the ashes of just a couple hundred were all that was salvageable when Cahill was finally evicted.

[Does it break your heart?]  "Yeah, knowing that the numbers...as I say these dogs represent many hundreds more...thousands more," said Janashek.

And so in a mass burial and funeral Tuesday afternoon, a small group said goodbye to the 240 dogs, the remains of which Janashek held onto for four years until she secured a plot donated by the Baltimore Humane Society.

It will become a memorial to the abused and others hope, a reminder of a harsh reality.

"I feel like I am doing something to pay homage to the animals and all the people who are making this possible so that this can be an example for the people to know...this kind of thing happens," said Anne Lyon who attended the funeral.

"They are not trash," Janashek added, "they should not have been trash and they are not trash now.  They are going to be buried in a beautiful place."       

A beautiful place donated by the Baltimore Humane Society.

The memorial park and pet cemetery has been around in some form or another since 1927 and the director says it never buried this many animals at once.

Janashek says she will eventually get a headstone made and says she will visit the plot.

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