Monday, October 3, 2011

Pet Talk: Animal hoarders don’t understand danger


The last 15 years of our lives have been dedicated to helping cats in a hoarding situation such as the one we recently found ourselves in.

A probation officer called after finding a trailer with 10 pitbulls, 23 unaltered cats and kittens and four children.

How could we say no?

The six kittens we took were loaded with fleas, had eye infections and upper respiratory infections and had worms crawling out of their rectums. The littlest one had pneumonia. We took the group that was in the worst shape because I felt the shelters would have no recourse but to euthanize them. We decided to try and save them.

The definition of an animal hoarder is pretty specific: when a person keeps higher-than-usual numbers of “pets” without having the ability to properly house or care for them, and at the same time denying that inability, you have a classic hoarder.

Hoarders are deeply attached to their pets and find it extremely difficult to let them go. The woman who owned the trailer we went to fit the definition. She did not understand she was causing harm to her animals by not providing the care these kittens needed. She did not comprehend the kittens were going to die if we did not take them. In fact, she kept saying she was taking good care of the cats. Although she could not afford food or veterinary care, and did not have a clean and healthy environment for the animals to live in, she continued to deny the kittens were sick. We were able to talk her into giving us six of the eight kittens from just one litter. 

Because of the harmful effects on the animals, animal hoarding is considered a form of cruelty, though many states have no legal definition. Because hoarders often are unable to provide even basic care for their animals, many succumb to serious diseases which result in death. Malnourishment is a common danger of hoarding. It leads to increased susceptibility to diseases and when the animals are rescued, they are often in advanced stages of illness..."  More

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