We may know of a "dog lady" down the street who hides away the animals she "saves". We turn a blind eye and perhaps think - what harm can it do? We may even think of her as a kind person. But if she is an animal hoarder she can not only harm - she can kill, maim, and cause unspeakable torture for generations of helpless animals. Even purebreds are not immune, for the animal hoarder may also be a breeder. Animal hoarding is far more prevalent than most people realize. Up to 2,000 cases of animal hoarding are discovered in the United States every year - which adds up to the suffering of many thousands of animals - and that may only be the tip of the iceberg.
According to HARC, the Tufts University Veterinary Medical School Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, animal hoarding, previously known as collecting, is a poorly understood phenomenon which transcends simply owning or caring for more than the typical number of pets, and affects every community in the US. It has serious consequences for people, animals, and communities. New cases are reported in the media each day, with dozens of others unreported, and still more undetected. Animal hoarding is a community problem. It is cruel to animals, can devastate families, be associated with elder abuse, child abuse, and self-neglect, and be costly for municipalities to resolve. Without appropriate post-intervention treatment, recidivism approaches 100%. Increased awareness, leading to more comprehensive long-term interventions, is needed. Animal Hoarding is not about animal sheltering, rescue, or sanctuary, and should not be confused with these legitimate efforts to help animals. It is about satisfying a human need to accumulate animals and control them, and this need supersedes the needs of the animals involved. Animal hoarding is becoming a growing problem since it is becoming more recognized. Animal Hoarding was first identified and researched in 1997 by Dr Gary J Patronek, DVM, Ph.D., and his team through HARC at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, Massachusetts. Dr Patronek and his associates were the first to use the term animal hoarding and to write a definition of the phrase, thus, an animal hoarder is defined as:
Someone who accumulates a large number of animals, fails to provide even the minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care, and fails to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals (including disease, starvation and even death), or the environment (severe overcrowding, extremely unsanitary conditions) or the negative effect of the collection on their own health and well-being and on that of other household members..." More