A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

When Helping Becomes Hoarding

More About Animal Hoarding

Dr. Gary Patronek, former director of the Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy and the founder of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium has done extensive research on hoarders. He has estimated that more than 75 percent of the people involved in hoarding are women, and that the great majority of them are middle-aged – almost half are over the age of 60. And most of them live alone.

Some other facts:

Up to 2,000 cases of animal hoarding are discovered in the United States every year.

The homes of animal hoarders are sometimes in such filthy condition – ankle-deep in rotting waste – that the premises have to be burned down or bulldozed.

While hoarders protest their love for animals, the syndrome is considered by psychologists to be not about love, but about control, and is linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Hoarders are almost always in a state of complete denial. Typically they may say that “the house is just a little messy” and the animals are fine.

Bear in mind, however, that hoarding has been observed in men and women, young and old, married people and professionals of all kinds, including veterinarians and other health professionals. Hoarders are often secretive, living essentially a “double life” at work compared to at home.

According to the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, it’s not a matter of how many animals someone is keeping, but the way they are kept.

Hoarders accumulate a large number of animals.

They fail to provide minimal standards of care and even sanitation.

They fail to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals and their housing.

They fail to act on the negative impact of their animal collecting on their own health and well-being.

What do you say? Have you come across a hoarding situation yourself? Do you feel you might even have tendencies in that direction? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.

What you can do: It’s important to realize that a hoarder will do almost anything to keep going. They are suffering from a mental illness and will not give up easily. It’s quite normal for a hoarder to lie, cheat and make promises that they have no intention of keeping. Simply offering to assist in looking after the animals will not help. It’s essential to report the case to the authorities – animal control or your nearest well-established humane society.