Monday, November 29, 2010

Opinion - Nathan J. Wonograd: The Hoarders of NYC

by Nathan J. Winograd

If you were to believe groups like Best Friends, the ASPCA, and the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals, hoarding is something that happens only outside of shelters. Hoarding is why rescue groups cannot be trusted and why pounds and shelters should not be second guessed when they decide to kill animals in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives. Within the animal protection movement, hoarding has become the equivalent of “remember 9/11,” a tactic used to scare everyone into maintaining the status quo, allowing the power to stay where the power is, allowing the money to flow where the money currently flows, allowing animals to continue to be systematically put to death, even as the rescue groups offering to save those very animals are turned away.

There is no question that the effects of hoarding are tragic: animals wallow in their own waste, are denied food and water for long periods of time, do not get necessary veterinary care, are crammed into cages and do not receive walks or regular exercise, all of which results in tremendous suffering and death. Hoarding is cruel, painful, and abhorrent. But in the general population, hoarding of animals is the result of mental illness and therefore not as common as these groups would have us believe.

There is a form of hoarding, however, that is very common; hoarding that is epidemic, endemic, and at crisis proportions; hoarding that systematically neglects, abuses, and kills animals, all the while denying there is a problem and laying the blame elsewhere. This hoarding does not take place inside private homes, but rather in the very institutions which theoretically exist to protect animals: our nation’s “shelters.” Yet to this hoarding, the nation’s largest animal welfare protection organizations turn a blind eye.

Imagine a place where animals do not get fed. Imagine a place where animals with painful injuries do not get the veterinary care they need. Imagine a place where animals are stuck in cages and forced to wallow in their own waste. Imagine a place where the animals’ food is dirtied by cat litter and even fecal material. Imagine a place filled with dead and dying animals simply discarded in the garbage. These behaviors are the textbook definition of hoarding, but they also adequately describe conditions animals across this nation must endure when they enter their local “shelter.”

And no better example of this type of hoarding and the indelible harm it causes can be found than the bleak and foreboding situation faced by the animals of New York City, where all of these behaviors are standard operating procedure. And like many hoarders, those responsible for it seek to deflect blame by calling themselves a “shelter” and by claiming to be “rescuing” the very animals they neglect and abuse..." More

See the ABC news report & video: here

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