Stories abound about animal hoarders in the news. Sometimes hundreds of cats and/or dogs are removed from a residence at once by animal control. The conditions in which these animals are found are typically filthy, completely unsanitary, causing disease and infection in the animals. In addition, these animals never know the loving touch of a responsible pet owner. They exist in an environment where it’s survival of the fittest.
The hoarders wrongfully believe they are helping the animals by keeping them indoors. In their mind, the cats and dogs are much better off with them than if they were unclaimed outdoors. The problem is that the animals, because of their sheer number, lack proper socialization skills. In short, they’re feral. Between the lack of sociability and the fact that these animals are not house-broken (defecating and urinating on the floors and furniture), the possibility of any of these animals being a candidate for adoption after rescue is nil. “It is likely that up to a quarter million animals – 250,000 /year – are victims.” (According to Tufts.edu)
The sad fact is that animals who are rescued from a hoarder are almost always humanely euthanized.
The ASPCA believes there is a dire need for coordinating efforts between animal control, mental health and social workers, and public health organizations to help combat the problem of animal hoarding. This problem also requires the assistance of family members and neighbors to step up and report suspicions of animal hoarding.
Hoarders not only neglect the health and wellbeing of the animals they keep, but they also neglect their own health and hygiene. Their mental state deteriorates with the conditions of the home they live in.
Signs of hoarding are:
- A person has more than a typical (often illegal) number of animals.
- The animals are kept indoors or inside cages in the back yard.
- Homes where animal hoarders live give off a very offensive odor.
- Veterinarians can determine animal hoarders by the volume of requests for help with sick or diseased animals.
Animal hoarders need help. Without that help, the animals suffer in the worst possible conditions before they eventually meet their death. If you know someone who you believe may be an animal hoarder, contact your local ASPCA and/or police department. The sooner suspicions are reported the sooner help can be obtained for the hoarder and the animals.
Animals deserve a good home, clean water, sufficient food, and lots of love. They deserve access to proper veterinary care, too. Help protect animals from those who are not capable of being proper care givers.
Special thanks go out to Amy Geduldig, Manager, Media & Communications, ASPCA for all her help with research. Also, thank you to Celeste Killeen for sending in information about her investigaive book, Inside Animal Hoarding: The case of Barbara Erickson and her 552 dogs, available on Amazon.com.
All articles by Michele Gwynn are under copyright and cannot be reposted in part or whole without written permission by the author. For permission, email [email protected]