Monday, March 1, 2010

Animal Rescue or Animal Hoarder?

Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D.

The SPCA of Texas, under the authority of the Fannin County Sherriff’s office, seized approximately 60 dogs and three horses from a place in Bonham. The place was called “Neely’s Pet Place” and was a self-proclaimed rescue organization. An additional eleven dead animals were found in the barn, most wrapped in plastic and waiting to be buried.

There is always a question about situations such as this. Is this a rescue group or individual that got in over their head, or is this a hoarder? Animal hoarding is a mental illness on the continuum of obsessive compulsive disorders. In other words, the hoarder compulsively collects animals. The collecting continues far beyond the person’s ability to care for the animals. The animals start to die from starvation, disease, and neglect. Often the hoarder stacks them in the freezer to await a burial that never comes.

How do you tell if someone is a hoarder? According to Maura Davies, with the SPCA of Texas, one clue is the ratio of animals to caregivers. Animals are a lot of work and one person cannot care for large numbers of pets and do so well. In the situation at “Neely’s Pet Place,” Davies saw some of the animals in obvious medical distress. There were also dead animals stacked and awaiting burial.

Another aspect of hoarding is the mess. Hoarders do not seem to see the feces, urine, dead animals, and insects that accumulate when those things are present. They do not see that some of the animals are hurting and sick. Hoarders think they are saving these animals from shelters that will put them down. Instead, most of the animals suffer in misery until they die..." More