How Many is Too Many?
I was reading the latest edition of The Bark and came across an article on pet hoarders. So what defines a hoarder and what makes a person become one? Opinions vary on this, but experts agree hoarding is seeking security by controlling. Hoarders have been compared to anorexics because they deny the situation going on around them. It isn’t just the number of animals, but also the level of care provided to them. Hoarders do not consider the limits of adequate care they can provide, but rather continue to add more animals to their home.
Although situations can vary, the typical pet hoarder is a middle aged or older woman, unemployed, living alone or estranged from her family. She sees herself as a caregiver, so she denies the neglect going on around her.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of animal hoarding reports, due largely to increased public awareness and the number of hoarders in the general population. Hoarders often represent themselves as animal rescuers or no-kill shelters. Since most people don’t know the difference between legitimate rescue/shelters and a animal hoarders, it can take longer to disband an unhealthy situation. A transition from rescue/adoption to rescue/retention may signal a movement toward a hoarding situation.
It’s best to intervene in a hoarding situation before it turns into a case of animal cruelty. Some communities are finding success in working with the hoarder, monitoring and managing them and the animals. The hoarder can still be the caregiver while the animals receive appropriate care and feeding. This solution can prevent lengthy, and expensive, court cases.
Unfortunately, hoarders are rarely convicted of a felony like animal cruelty. They are more often allowed to plead to a lesser charge which allows faster removal and rehoming of the animals involved. If you have know of a potential pet hoarding situation, contact your animal control, humane society or ASPCA.org, search for State Animal Cruelty Laws. Better to be safe than sorry!