Animal Hoarding

20 Jul

Monsters aren’t real, but humans are. Let us not be the monsters in an animal’s life. Animal Hoarding is a big issue, and hopefully this blog post will inform you about this issue.

What is animal hoarding?

– Public health and community issue
– When someone has more than the typical number of domestic animals as pets
– Inability to give the proper treatment, such as nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care
– Often leads to animal illness, starvation, and death
– Denial
– Many do not know how many animals they are “caring” for

Who are hoarders and why do they hoard?

– Knows no age, gender, or socioeconomic boundaries
– Observed in men, women, the young and old, the married and widowed, and in people with professional jobs
– However, the elderly tend to be more at risk due to their own deteriorating health and isolation from community and social groups
– Animal hoarders appear intelligent and they believe that they are helping their animals
– Failure to understand the severity of the situation
– Difficulties understanding animal needs
– Inaccurate appreciation of a situation and its consequences
– Being unable to reason about treatment options and alternative courses of action
– Psychological defenses and behaviors in response to stress
– Magical thinking
– Depression
– Paranoia

How common is animal hoarding?

– Estimated that there are 900 to 2,000 new cases every year in the United States
– A quarter million animals falling victim
– Normally cats, dogs, reptiles, rodents, birds, exotics and farm animals
– Any animal can be a victim of hoarding
– Many call themselves “Animal Sanctuaries” or “Rescue Groups”
– The majority of animal hoarders will continue to hoard, even after an intervention, unless they receive help

What are the consequences of animal hoarding? Are there laws against it?

– Deteriorating home
– Strong smell of ammonia
– Dried feces, urine, and vomit around the house
– Animals are not well socialized and lethargic
– Infestation of fleas
– Animal owner is isolated from the community
– Insists that his animals are happy and healthy, even with the clear signs of animal illness and distress
– Often emotionally troubled, rather than a “criminal”
– Against the law – stated in every state’s animal cruelty law
– Illinois and Hawaii have separate laws
Illinois Companion Animal Hoarder Act was created in 2001 to create a legal definition for “companion animal hoarder” and mandate counseling for those convicted of animal cruelty who meet the definition – animal hoarding itself is not prohibited by the law.
Hawaii’s 2008 law – only state law specifically outlawing animal hoarding – does not mandate psychological counseling for convicted hoarders or restrict future animal ownership.

What can I do to help?

– Call local humane law enforcements, police department or animal shelter – first step for help if you witness hoarding
– Educate others – pass on this information
– Contact social service groups – get the animal hoarder connected to the right services from mental health agencies
– Reassure the hoarder – they are usually worried that their animals are in the wrong hands, when in reality, the animals will be better off with professionals
– Volunteer to help walk dogs and clean cages in shelters to help all the animals that had to go through the traumatic experience of animal hoarding
– Keep in touch – make sure that if the hoarder does acquire a new pet, that it is properly spayed or neutered, vaccinated and in good health
– “Hoarding Prevention Team” and Intervention Program by the ASPCA – to date, the program has assisted more than 20 animal hoarders and rescued nearly 200 animals.

Click the link below to check out an Animal Planet Confessions: Animal Hoarding episode:
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