Posts Tagged ‘Animal Hoarding’

A Little About Animal Hoarding

April 15, 2010

A serious and poorly understood form of hoarding is Animal Hoarding (Patronek & Nathanson, 2009). Approximately 1,500 new cases of animal hoarding occur each year.  An animal  hoarder has a need to have large amounts of animals that may include

collecting dogs, cats, goats, horses, snakes or others in excess. This leads to deteriorating conditions in which water and food become scarce. Typically there is the stench of urine and piles of feces along with carcasses of dead animals. Animal Hoarders view what they are doing as an act of love and see nothing wrong with what they are doing. Most are in denial they are doing anything wrong and cannot see that what they are doing is quite destructive and most of all, a health hazard. Most places in the US

will allow for 2-5 animals without a permit. Hoarders will collect 15, 25, 50

maybe even 100 animals. This doesn’t mean all are alive though. Law

enforcement officials and Psychiatrists do not understand much about Animal

Hoarding. Sadly there are many cases in which hoarders are punished as criminals

rather than being treated for a mental illness.  Recently I was watching an episode

of TLC’s new series, Hoarding: Buried Alive. An elderly lady and her husband

hoarded cats. It was their way of not feeling lonely and they felt useful. It was the

husband who fed the cats daily but it was the wife who was being charged with

animal cruelty and neglect. Both estimated they had around 20-30 cats and kittens.

When animal control arrived to collect up the cats and kittens they collected nearly

50 live and dead. Later when the interventionists came in to help clean and

support the husband and wife, nearly 60 carcasses were discovered.  One thing you

will find in majority of hoarders homes is garbage. The garbage may be stacked

high in the kitchen and bathroom, several feet high. Garbage that has been in the

home for long periods of time may have caused serious damage to the structure of

the home, thus making it a hazardous situation (Williams, 2000). This can cause the home to be condemned. If you ask a hoarder why they

collect things many will answer because it is comforting to

them. They feel useful when they have things that bring them comfort or knowing

that one day down the road someone will need that certain item. Throwing items

away that belongs to a hoarder can be very traumatic. Even the thought of throwing

an item away that has no use left is difficult for a hoarder to discard. Every item a

hoarder has is meaningful to them in one way or another. Sometimes there are items

in a hoarders life that have significant meaning that may be taboo

for anyone else to touch. The item can be from childhood during a critical time: a now tattered teddy bear, poster, trophy, etc.

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Animal Hoarding

March 24, 2010

After spending some time reading and watching countless episodes of A&E’s “Hoarders” as well as TLC’s new version “Hoarding: Buried Alive” I have been able to understand more about people who hoard animals.

Animal Hoarding is when a person collects animals whether horses, goats, dogs, cats or even birds in excess. The average family that may own a few animals. People who hoard animals DO love them all as their own. It becomes a difficult task though to feed and maintain the animals and thus diseases are spread, there is contamination, property becomes destroyed, infestation of rodents and insects occur and of course animals begin to die.

Animal hoarders do not see anything wrong with what they are doing. They believe they are doing a good deed by caring for animals others have discarded and do not want to see the animals put to death or suffer by going without food. There are some who do realize that their animal hoarding has spiraled out of control but do not know where to turn. Many people are still uninformed about animal hoarding and want to “throw the book” at a hoarder immediately. Basically, the hoarder may be scared, concerned, ashamed of their hoarding that they may not do anything to alleviate the issues until they have no other choice but to make changes.

The animal hoarder can be any age though many of them are up in age, perhaps in retirement. At this time the hoarder may feel this is the only thing they have to really live for. It gives them purpose to do something good for someone else.

When an animal hoarder is confronted by the authorities and forced to clean up their property, remove the animals and/or face criminal charges, it can be devastating to them. They feel as if their sense of purpose is being taken away from them. For some it may feel as if they have no other reason to live.

Like with any other hoarders, the animal hoarder may or may not be living alone. They may feel alone but find a sense of comfort in collecting items. In this case it’s animals. Animals give the hoarder attention, don’t argue or talk back nor criticize like another human being would.