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GENERAL RULE: If you suspect someone may be hoarding animals, you are probably right. It is best to get a professional opinion by calling and reporting the matter.
IDENTIFYING ISSUES AND PROBLEMS:
It is happening more and more across America. Estimates now are more than 700 cases a year. A good intention to help animals grows beyond a person’s ability to cope and eventually to understand. The result is both a public health problem and a mental illness. Legal intervention may help the animals, but unless there is also psychiatric help a 100 percent repeat offence is virtually guaranteed.
Symptoms of Animal Hoarding:
- Preoccupation with rescuing animals.
- Accumulating a large number of animals without apparent concern for one’s ability to provide sanitation, nutrition and vet care at acceptable standards.
- Denial of the deteriorating situation and failing to seek help.
- Unwillingness to find homes for or allow adoption of animals.
- Growing isolation and suspicion that others may expose the situation.
Profile of a Typical Hoarder:
- 70+ percent are Female
- Middle-aged to elderly
- Unmarried (divorced, widowed, or single) and living alone
- Usually, but not always, involved in hoarding cats
- Living environment is soiled with urine and feces
- Over 80 percent of cases investigated involve dead or sick animals being discovered
- Over half of all hoarders deny any problem exists
RECOMMENDATION & SUMMARY:
If you know or suspect someone is hoarding animals, do not dismiss the suspicion under the label of “she is just eccentric in her love for animals.” You may have identified a growing health hazard that is harmful for the animals and the person involved. Rest assured, the problem will continue to grow until something is done, and by then it often is too late for many, if not all, of the animals involved.
It is best that you not confront the person you suspect is involved. If you do, the person will likely attempt to conceal the evidence, even moving the animals temporarily to avoid possible scrutiny. Leave the investigation to the authorities. Call your local law enforcement to report your suspicion. By getting involved, you are doing a service to your community and to the animals. Perhaps most importantly you are doing a service to the person involved. Bringing the case to their attention may result in the person getting the mental health assistance that is now necessary.