Monday, June 7, 2010

What is Animal Hoarding?

Animal hoarding is a very serious public health concern, the effects of which are a mental health, animal health and public safety issue.

Below are markers which indicate animal hoarding.

More than the usual number of companion pets

An inability to provide even the minimum standards of nutrition, shelter, veterinary care andsanitary conditions.

Denial of this inability and the impact that it has on the animals and the home environment for both them and the human occupants of the home.

For a full definition and more information, log onto:

So, Why do People Hoard Animals?

That’s a good question and one we cannot fully answer. However, early research points toward a number of obsessive-compulsive disorders. Newer studies lead toward attachment disorders in conjunction with personality disorders, paranoia, delusional thinking, depression and other mental illnesses. For example, some animal hoarders began collecting following a traumatic loss or event. Then again, others see themselves as ‘rescuers.’

Very often, hoarders appear to be intelligent people, clearly believing they are helping animals. Many even possess the ability to garner sympathy and can even deceive others into thinking their situation is under control. They become ignorant to the fact they are not helping the animals but are inflicting extreme suffering upon them.

So, How Do You Spot a Hoarder?

Animal hoarders range in age and gender. The elderly tend to be more at risk and this is possibly due to their own deteriorating health and isolation either from family, community or social groups. However, one common denominator between them is the lack of understanding of the pain and suffering they are inflicting upon the animals and of the crises they are committing.

Here’s a sample checklist to look for:

They have many animals and may not even know the total number in their care.

Their homes are in a state of deterioration, (broken furniture, in need of repair, lots of clutter.)

A strong smell of ammonia is present and floors may be covered in animal poo, urine, vomit etc.,

Animals in their care are emaciated, poorly groomed and not properly socialized.

Vermin are present.

The person themselves are isolated and have neglected themselves.

Despite the signs of distress, the individual insists all is well and the animals are well cared for.

Do Hoarders Often Pass Themselves Off As Rescue Officers?

Sometime they can set themselves up as ‘rescue shelters,’ and may appear to be sensible individuals. They convey their love for those animals that have special needs. Lately, the internet has become a tool for such solicitation.

So, How Do You Know If It’s a Hoarder or a Rescue Shelter?

The hoarder is unwilling to allow visitors see the location where animals are kept. (The rescue shelter will have no problem).

The hoarder will not disclose the number of animals in its care. (The rescue shelter will be able to provide facts and statistics).

Little or no effort is made by the hoarder to adopt animals out. (Rescue shelters actively seek to re- home animals in their care).

Legitimate rescue shelters are viewed as the enemy by hoarders.

Animals may be picked up or handed over at a remote location – (car park, field, street corner), rather than at the hoarder’s facilities. The legitimate rescue shelter will have a headquarters.

I Have Lots of Animals – Am I a Hoarder?

Not every one who has multiple animals is a hoarder. An individual may have many animals, have them spayed/neutered, and provide them with regular veterinary care, a correct diet, proper living conditions and a sanitary environment. Such a person would not be considered a hoarder. However, if you do think you have too many animals in your care and are not providing adequate facilities for them; please contact your local shelter or vet immediately and ask for help....

...Educate others about the misery that’s involved in hoarding animals both for the animal and the hoarder. It’s not eccentricity – it’s cruelty.

Ask your local social services to get involved. Health visitors need to be aware that this is not just about the animals’ welfare; it’s also a human problem too. The hoarder needs help.

Let the hoarder know it’s ok to accept that help. Hoarders are usually worried their animals may be put to sleep. The DSPCA does not put any healthy animal to sleep! However, the hoarder must understand that their animals will need the urgent, expert, care and attention of the veterinary staff.

Sadly, in many cases, the animals are too unsocialised, too old and too ill to be considered for adoption and their fate usually involves humane euthanasia...." More

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