Monday, July 27, 2009

Help Prevent Animal Hoarding in New York

Animal hoarding is a debilitating psychological disorder characterized by a need to obsessively accumulate higher-than-usual numbers of animals as pets -- despite an inability to provide even minimal standards of care. This often leads to severe neglect, starvation, illness and even death for literally hundreds of animals at a time.

As more cases come to light, people are beginning to understand that hoarding situations are characterized by severe self-neglect and often involve not only animal victims but dependent human victims as well.

Children of animal hoarders can suffer from serious and enduring distress. They may grow up with an authority figure who appears to appreciate collections of animals -- dead or alive -- more than the child. Embarrassment about living in a household unfit for human habitation can cause these children to isolate themselves from their peers. Their attempts to clean up the house are prohibited or punished, and the people they count on as authority figures refuse to get help. This only increases the children’s anxiety and confusion.

Despite its tragic impact on local communities, animal hoarding and other types of animal neglect are rarely investigated and prosecuted in New York.

Assembly Bill 592 addresses the need to establish animal hoarding as a type of serious animal neglect offense that requires early intervention and preventative treatment.

The bill would make animal hoarding a separate animal neglect misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 fine. A592 would also require the court to order convicted hoarders to undergo a mental health evaluation and necessary treatment or counseling. The court could also prohibit convicted hoarders from owning companion animals for a reasonable period of time.

While animal hoarding is best resolved through a long-term process that involves a wide spectrum of community agencies (including mental health and social services, adult protective services, child protective services, public health and sanitation, local law enforcement and animal welfare agencies), A592 represents a step forward in addressing an overlooked social issue and giving law enforcement the tools needed for early intervention..." Link

Please ask your Assembly member to support A592.