Animal Hoarding - A Closer Look

ANIMAL HOARDING 

 

Every year, there are at least 250,000 animals affected by hoarding. 

 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, animal hoarders imagine the wonderful way in which they will heal, love, and nurture their pets, while overlooking the terrible effects of having too many of them.  While it may seem that object hoarders and animal hoarders are similar, the difference lies in the attitude and behaviors of each…object hoarders save for things they may need someday where animal hoarders feel the animals need them and that they are saving the animals. 

Animal hoarders clear a small area of their home of animal waste, or find a special container for pet food, but they fail to address that their home, furniture, and lives are destroyed by having too many animals. 

 

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF ANIMAL HOARDING? 

 

The following criteria are used to define animal hoarding: 

 

  • An individual possesses more than the typical number of companion animals. 
  • The individual is unable to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness and death. 
  • The individual is in 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. 

 

This definition comes from the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, an independent group of academic researchers based in Massachusetts. The full definition and more info can be found at vet.tufts.edu/hoarding. 

 

Even though an animal hoarder may appear to love the animals in their care, the situation gets out of control and the home dwelling becomes a bio-hazard. Lack of sanitation endangers the health of the animals and their caretakers.  

 

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, over 70% of hoarders are women and the most common animal victims of hoarders are cats, followed by dogs.  While animal hoarders can range in age, ethnicity, and gender, they all have in common the inability to understand the seriousness of their situation. 

 

WHAT CAUSES ANIMAL HOARDING AND WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE? 

 

There are numerous theories about the root cause of animal hoarding.  It is still not clearly understood although notes that studies of animal hoarders show the behavior often begins after an illness, disability or death of significant other, or other difficult life event.   

 

As with object hoarders, animal hoarders rarely seek help or treatment unless encouraged by a loved one or until faced with a forced event of animal removal.  Even then, they need support in treating this condition.  Without treatment, animal hoarders have an almost 100% rate of recidivism rate. 

 

Treatment usually involves coordinating intervention with local or regional animal shelters (like the Animal Rescue League of Iowaand animal control officials to make it harder for the hoarder to gain more pets.  When family and/or friends can be involved in the treatment, it can allow the hoarder to more quickly develop or maintain satisfying relationships, providing opportunities to give and receive the love the animals offered. 

 
Therapists can help family and friends learn how to be helpful vs. confrontational with the hoarder.  Also, where research has shown that object hoarders are helped with proper cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), this could also be helpful with animal hoarders 

 

THE HOARDING CLEANUP 

 

Cleaning out an animal hoarder’s home is overwhelming and even dangerous. It’s best to hire professional help for a hoarding cleanup. Bio-One is compassionate and professional team of hoarding cleanup specialists who want to help people reclaim their homes from this condition. 

 

We will work closely with the homeowner and the family from start to finish. The Bio-One team is committed to making our clients feel safe and comfortable throughout the process. 

 

You trust your loved one’s treatment to the mental professionals, so trust the hoarding cleanup to the experienced professionals as well. 

 

Contact Bio-One today at 515-776-1044 or via email at info@BioOneDesMoines.com for more information about our comprehensive cleanup services and to schedule a no-obligation consultation and cost estimate. 

 

Jean & Joel Akers, Owners 

Bio-One Des Moines 

www.BioOneDesMoines.com 

 

Cover photo courtesy of ARL Iowa

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