Animal hoarding involves keeping a higher-than-usual number of animals as domestic pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them, while at the same time denying this inability.Compulsive hoarding can be characterized as a symptom of mental disorder rather than deliberate cruelty towards animals. Hoarders are deeply attached to their pets and find it extremely difficult to let the pets go. They typically cannot comprehend that they are harming their pets by failing to provide them with proper care. Hoarders tend to believe that they provide the right amount of care for their pets. TheAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provides a "Hoarding Prevention Team", which works with hoarders to help them attain a manageable and healthy number of pets.
HideCharacteristics of a hoarder
An animal hoarder keeps an unusually large number of pets, but fails to care for them properly. A hoarder is distinguished from an animal breeder, who would have a large number of animals as the central component of his or her business; this distinction can be problematic, however, as some hoarders are former breeders who have ceased selling and caring for their animals, while others will claim to be breeders as a psychological defense mechanism, or in hopes of forestalling intervention. Gary Patronek, director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University, defines hoarding as the "pathological human behavior that involves a compulsive need to obtain and control animals, coupled with a failure to recognize their suffering". According to another study, the distinguishing feature is that a hoarder "fails to provide the animals with adequate food, water, sanitation, and veterinary care, and... is in denial about this inability to provide adequate care." Along with other compulsive hoardingbehaviours, it is linked in the DSM-IV to obsessive compulsive disorder and obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Alternatively, animal hoarding could be related to addiction, dementia, or even focal delusion.
HideDangers of hoarding animals
The health issues in animal hoarding encompass a variety of concerns related to both individual and public health. Animal hoarding is the cause of many severe health risks that threaten the hoarded animals, individuals living in hoarding residences, and surrounding neighbors.
Health effects on animals
Due to the harmful effects on the health of the animals involved, animal hoarding is considered a form of animal cruelty. Hoarders often fail to provide basic care for their animals, thus resulting in disease and often death. The primary animal health issues involved are malnourishment, overcrowding, and problems related to neglect. Consequences of hoarding are long-lasting and continue to affect the animals even after they have been rescued and provided with better care.
Lack of sufficient food and water is a common feature of hoarding situations. The immediate consequence of this is starvation and death. One study found at least one dead animal present in over half of examined cases, the leading cause of death being an insufficient food and water supply. Malnourishment also leads to increased susceptibility to disease, and the hoarded animals are often in advanced stages of sickness. Furthermore, when there is a limited food supply, animals may resort to aggressive behavior in competing for available food, killing and sometimes even eating other animals. The hoarder’s failure to provide sufficient food and water constitutes one of the principal health risks to hoarded animals.
Overcrowding is also an acute animal health problem in hoarding situations. The number of animals found in hoarding cases range from dozens to several hundreds, with extreme cases involving over a thousand animals. Animals are confined to houses, apartments, or trailer-homes. In one case, 306 cats were removed from a home, 87 of which were dead. Corpses were found embedded in the chimney and living room furniture. In addition to lack of living space, overcrowding facilitates the spread of diseases among animals. Furthermore, in cases where more than one species is confined to the same living space, animals can pose a danger to one other due to inter-species aggression. Due to insufficient living space, the spread of disease, and close proximity to other animals, overcrowding is a major animal health concern of hoarding.
Various other health problems arise from hoarders' neglect of and inability to provide basic care for the animals. Lack of veterinary attention is notable among these. Hoarders, refusing to acknowledge the deteriorating health conditions of their animals and scared they will be forced to give up custody, often refuse to take their animals to veterinarians. As a result, diseases are left untreated and allowed to become more severe. Another problem tied to neglect is poor sanitary conditions for the animals. Basic animal waste management is absent in virtually all animal-hoarding situations, and animals are filthy and often infected with parasites as a result. Furthermore, animals suffer behaviorally from a lack of socialization caused by an absence of normal interaction with other animals. Hoarders neglect to provide even minimal standards of care, in addition to the problems of insufficient food and severe crowding, contribute to the health problems caused by animal hoarding.
Many of these health problems continue to cause suffering even after the animals are rescued. Strained animal shelters or humane societies, forced to prioritize when dealing with a large number of rescued animals, may be unable to provide immediate treatment to many animals. Furthermore, many of the rescued animals, due to health or behavioral problems, may not be suitable for adoption.Euthanasia, even in cases where the animals are not beyond rehabilitation, is often the only option for rescued animals. The effects of hoarding on the health and socialization of the animals involved are severe and lasting, taking heavy tolls on both their physical and psychological well-being.
READ IN FULL