What is animal hoarding? I deal with this question on probably a daily basis.
Animal hoarding is not necessarily a person who has a large number of animals. An animal hoarder is a person
who has a large number of animals and cannot properly care for them, while insisting that they can. According to the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, these are the characteristics of an animal hoarder:
• More than the typical number of companion animals
• Inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness and death
• Denial of the inability to provide this minimum care and the impact of that failure on the animals, the household and human occupants of the dwelling
Animal hoarders have compulsive disorders that lead to them obtaining the animals. They become deeply attached to each one of their animals and have a hard time letting them go. They believe that they are caring properly for their animals, which is a major distinction between hoarders and those that are cruel to animals.
Unfortunately, hoarding is harmful to humans and animals. The conditions that hoarded animals live in are most often unsanitary and deplorable. Because hoarders are unable to provide basic
veterinary care, animals are often sick and the neglect deteriorates their health. Humans that live in the house and sometimes, in the surrounding houses, with hoarded animals are at a great risk of health risks due to high ammonia levels produced from animal urine.
In the interest of the well-being of animals and the humans involved, it is important to report someone that you suspect to be a hoarder. However, I do need to stress again that there’s a difference between a hoarder and someone that has a lot of animals (often above code level)—the care and health of the animals.