Friday, December 25, 2009

The Cost of Hoarding

Published by Linda Watkins

In the last year it seems that not a month has gone by without news of the seizure of a triple-digit number of dogs somewhere in the U.S. Numbers range from a mere 100 (most of which are pregnant females), to five or six hundred (most of which are pregnant females). Rarely are any of these critters spayed or neutered, most are disease-ridden, severely underweight, and poorly socialized — that is to say, they are used to other dogs, but not real comfortable with humans other than knowing they may sporadically get food from them.

What I’m also noticing is the increasing frequency with which these seizures are accompanied by child welfare complaints. We seem to keep ignoring that animal abuse and neglect are closely linked to child abuse and neglect — most family law judges and attorneys acknowledge this link; it’s been proven time and again in academic and clinical studies, and yet as a matter of practice our law makers persist in their passive denial of the link between the two behaviors.

Laws regarding animal neglect and abuse are the equivalent of a slap on the hand at best — even the sentence for Michael Vick whose dog fighting “business” was one of the more horrific examples of animal abuse that we’ve seen in this country but which has been treated by most people as a minor indiscretion; an instance of poor judgment — has been viewed by many as over-kill.

There are a couple of issues with animal hoarding that most of us don’t consider: First of course is the attitude the hoarders/abusers have towards any living things. If they can so willfully abuse a dog, (or a horse or a cat, etc.) what does that say about their ability to value any life? These are people who barely provide adequate shelter, food, and water to the living creatures under their control and power. These same people, if they have children often treat them the same way — they have no respect or consideration for those who are dependent on them for safety and sustenance. So, if their children grow to adulthood, what are they going to be like? As for their animals, if they survive long enough to go into other homes, what will they be like?..." More