Sunday, June 13, 2010

Animal Hoarders show behavior patterns

By: Michele C. Hollow

According to the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), nearly 250,000 animals are victims of animal hoarding each year. What makes this crime different from other types of animal cruelty is that most animal hoarders believe they are helping, saving, or rescuing the animals they imprison.

I interviewed Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction, to get a better understanding of animal hoarders. Following is a Q&A with Tina:

Pet News and Views: Is there a particular trait that identifies hoarders?

Tina: We all have two minds we operate from—the rational and the emotional. Hoarders are operating out of the emotional, and have difficulty seeing things rationally. They’re only registering their emotional response, and not thinking logically about consequences.

PNAV: What makes someone hoard dogs and cats?

Tina: Often, they love animals; they may identify with strays because (correctly or not) they feel abandoned by society, family and friends. Once they identify, they can’t say no to taking in cats or dogs. Animals are easy companions. All they really require is being fed and watered, and they’ll stay around. Anyone who loves animals and has been to a pet shelter knows the pull to help all the doomed animals there. Hoarders just can’t resist the pull.

PNAV: Do they start out loving dogs and cats and then lose control?

Tina: Almost always. They take in the animals with the attitude of a child “Oh isn’t it sweet?” and don’t consider the larger picture. If they don’t get the animals spayed or neutered, they don’t even have to take in more to have their hoard grow. In the case of some animal hoarders I know, if people find out, they start ‘dumping’ unwanted animals at the hoarder ’s place. The whole thing becomes completely overwhelming, because they didn’t take care of business in the first place...." More

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