Thursday, August 20, 2009

Too many best friends: animal hoarding


The old woman who lived in the shoe with all those children and Old Mother Hubbard whose bare cupboard held no bones for her dog are nursery rhyme examples of too much and too little. In real life, an unusual disorder joins too much and too little in a condition known as animal hoarding.

Although having pets is known to be good for your health and your mental well-being, two much of a good thing can be bad even deadly. When the number of pets exceeds your ability to adequately care for each one; the situation becomes hazardous for both pets and people.

Common hoarding is fairly well-known by both medical professionals and the average lay-person. It can be associated with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) but some hoarders do not exhibit other symptoms of OCD.

A hoarder collects but does not discard items that are either useless, of no value or possess little value in large numbers. Living spaces are so cluttered with these items; the space can no longer be used for its original purpose. The amount of items causes distress to the owner.

Scientists have not determined what causes hoarding and there is no definitive cure. Most medical sources indicate a belief that there is a genetic link and that the disorder may be more biological than psychological. Hoarding is very difficult to treat.

Animal hoarding is an even less understood type of hoarding. Even the psychiatric journals list little research and credit animal protection agencies for recognizing the severity of the problem and getting information out to the public and the scientific community.

In the case of animal hoarding, Tufts University evaluates the condition by several criteria. Does the person have more companion animals than would be considered normal? ..."