The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Chihuahua hoarder gets probation

Here’s a follow-up on yesterday’s posting.  This article not only gives more information about the hoarding, but also is an example of how the mental health courts can work.  This outcome means that no more dogs will be hoarded and this ill man will get some help which he obviously needs.  A good outcome all the way around.

What I like about mental health court is the fact that mental illness does not excuse you for your actions but does allow mitigation of the law to be in effect.  I truly believe this is in the best interest of all involved because punishment does not mean that the party will receive any needed help.

Dearborn man who had 100-plus dogs under mental health court’s supervision


A dog peers through an opening in Lang's Dearborn home in July. Dead dogs also were found in freezers.   (Dearborn Police Department)

The Dearborn man who hoarded a houseful of living and dead Chihuahuas will serve five years probation in a pilot mental health court program under a plea deal struck Tuesday.

Kenneth Lang Jr. pleaded guilty to a single count of felony animal cruelty before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Chylinski, admitting that keeping the dogs in cramped and squalid conditions amounted to abuse.

“This is an outcome, a solution that works for everybody,” Lang’s lawyer James Schmier said.

The plea is designed to assure that Lang, 56, gets mental health treatment while under strict court supervision. Lang will be formally sentenced on Feb. 9 by Judge Timothy Kenny, who oversees the pilot program.

Prosecutors Amy Slameka and Rajesh Prasad said the program will give authorities a fuller picture of how Lang fares on probation — reducing the likelihood he will relapse.

Schmier said Lang is a troubled man with a low IQ and an array of mental conditions, in addition to his compulsive hoarding of Chihuahuas. Lang was found legally competent to face the charges.

Investigators found more than 100 live dogs in Lang’s house, in addition to frozen bodies of another 100-plus Chihuahuas in freezers.

Lang was ostracized and mocked as a youngster and over the years found companionship and comfort with the dogs, his lawyer said.

“It just got out of hand and overwhelmed him,” Schmier said. “He’s a very human guy with a very human story, and with very human frailties.”

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Lang will not be allowed to own animals. He also must make $3,000 restitution to the Animal Legal Defense Fund for the examination of the dead dogs and an as-yet undetermined restitution to the City of Dearborn.

Contact JOE SWICKARD: 313-222-8769 or

James Schmier, left, and Kenneth Lang Jr. stand before Judge James Chylinski on Tuesday. Lang pleaded guilty to animal cruelty for keeping dogs in squalid conditions.   (ERIC SEALS/DFP)James Schmier, left, and Kenneth Lang Jr. stand before Judge James Chylinski on Tuesday. Lang pleaded guilty to animal cruelty for keeping dogs in squalid conditions. (ERIC SEALS/DFP)

A version of this story appears on page 3A of the Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010, print edition of the Detroit Free Press.


The Chihuahua aftermath

Authorities rescued 105 Chihuahuas last summer from the Dearborn home of Kenneth Lang Jr.

All but 13 dogs have been adopted, according to Amy Slameka and Rajesh Prasad, both of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s animal cruelty unit. The remaining dogs have conditions that make them unsuitable for adoption, but they will not be euthanized.

Donations to help with expenses can be made to Dearborn Animal Shelter, 2661 Greenfield Road, Dearborn 48120.

Joe Swickard

You can read the original article here

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January 16, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , ,

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