Animal hoarding is a devastating plight not only for the animal but also the hoarder. Gary Patronek, director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University, defines hoarding as the “pathological human behavior that involves a compulsive need to obtain and control animals, coupled with a failure to recognize their suffering.”
“Being kept by a hoarder is a slow kind of death for an animal.” D. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President
The hoarder is not an abuser, but they do not realize that they are harming the animals. They don’t view their behavior as doing anything wrong. A person afflicted with this syndrome believes that they are helping the animals by providing them with a home and a environment filled with love. They are totally unaware that they have too many animals and are allowing the animals to live in poor or dangerous conditions. It’s more common than you think. In fact, nearly a quarter-million animals fall victim to animal hoarding each year.
Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding is quite eye opening. You can watch previous episodes and perhaps get a better understand of the syndrome and how it affects the lives of those who suffer with this condition. We have sympathy for those suffering, but have more sympathy for the animals that are unable to protect themselves.
Hoarding is very difficult to prevent, but it can be stopped. There is a need for public education and for everyone to know how to recognize the basic signs of hoarding. If you suspect someone of hoarding animal, do your part and report the abuse.
The ASPCA’s criteria to define animal hoarding is:
- More than the typical number of companion animals
- Inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness and death
- Denial of the inability to provide this minimum care and the impact of that failure on the animals, the household and human occupants of the dwelling
Animal Legal Defense Fund’s First Strike and You’re Out: A Model Law is a proposal for mandatory bans on contact with animals following a conviction for animal neglect or cruelty. You can help by signing the petition and find out how you can help to keep offenders away from potential new animal victims. As of this writing, North Carolina is the only state we found that has a unique law that allows any person or organization to sue an animal abuser.
Psychiatric Times has an in depth article People Who Hoard Animals that will help you to understand and recognize the syndrome. You will need to set up an account (free) to sign in, but the information is well worth your time to read. Simply enter the article title in search.
We all need to do our part to educated and help to ensure the safety of animals. United we can make a difference!