WBSM.com's story about a New Bedford house fire at a residence with 60 cats living there – 34 of which perished in the fire – created a buzz with local listeners.

First, our prayers go out to the three residents who had to be hospitalized, and we wish them a full recovery back to wellness. Also, this article in no way impugns any of those residents; however, I did raise the question of if having 60 cats in one household was indicative of anything?

I have respect for people who are "rescuers" and help save animals from lives on the dangerous streets, but there's a difference between rescuers and animal hoarders. So how do you tell if someone is a hoarder?

I understand from chats I've had with people who know that an animal hoarder is often intelligent and caring, but they're completely blind to the fact that having so many animals under their care is less than ideal. Truth is, an animal hoarder fails to understand the seriousness of their situation and will tell you that every single animal is happy and healthy. They also are not willing to give up any animals to shelters because they're attached personally to the herd and don't have the confidence in the shelters.

My difficulty with this turns worrisome if the person who has 60 cats in an apartment fails to provide the animals with adequate food, water. sanitation and veterinary care, and is in denial about the inability to provide good care.

I may be presumptuous here, but if the place has a strong smell of ammonia and the floor is covered with dried feces, urine, and fleas, and the cats are walking all over the dinner tables, furniture, in the kitchen, on the countertops and in the beds, there is definitely a hazard here.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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