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Hoarder Arrested

An accused animal hoarder who skipped bail on two cruelty cases has finally been arrested after two years on the run. The arrest of Barbara...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Oct 28th 2008


An accused animal hoarder who skipped bail on two cruelty cases has finally been arrested after two years on the run.

The arrest of Barbara Ryan ends a two-year odyssey that took her from Hemet to Tehachapi to Fillmore, among other locations, and involved more than 100 dogs and cats.

Authorities say she adopted several aliases, and they now suspect that an animal-rescue group aided her while she was on the run.

Ryan, who also uses the name Anita Gilbert, was in custody without bail at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood.

Ryan was originally arrested back in September 2006 after a neighbor complained of the smell coming from her home.

Inside, authorities found 23 cats and 15 dogs tied to cupboards and in closets, said Rita Gutierrez, field services commander for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

The animals had suffered burns from living in their own waste, and they were covered with cockroaches, Gutierrez said. Urine and feces had saturated drywall in one room and caused it to disintegrate, and the building was deemed uninhabitable, she said.

That October, Ryan failed to appear for a Riverside County court hearing on felony animal cruelty charges, and the case went cold.

This story just keeps getting worse. In July animal officers were called to investigate a warehouse that was occupied by Anita Gilbert, a.k.a. Barbara Ryan.

The warehouse windows were covered with plywood and the floors coated with fecal sludge, said Guy Shaw, director of animal services.

Inside, officers found dead cats in the freezer and crates housing sickly animals sitting in piles of filth and food cans, Shaw said. In all, there were 15 dogs and 37 cats.

The officers suffered nausea, dizziness and headaches from the foul air in the building, according to the animal control department’s case file. One veteran technician said the conditions were the most horrendous she had ever seen.

Now, thanks to Bob Herman who was Ryan’s bail bondsman she has been caught. Ryan skipped out on her bail and Herman spent hundreds of hours to track her down. Not only does this woman deserve jail time, I think some psychiatric care may be in order.