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Animal Hoarding

Tabitha was rescued by NHES from a hoarding situation.

Tabitha was rescued by NHES from a hoarding situation.

 Animal hoarding describes a situation in which an individual acquires more animals than can be adequately cared for. Animal hoarding is a major problem affecting both companion and livestock animals in the United States.

 Animal Hoarding Facts

  • Researchers estimate that hoarding accounts for the suffering and death of over 250,000 animals each year.
  • Animal hoarders can be any age, gender, rural or urban residents, and come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Like other forms of hoarding, animal hoarding often appears as a symptom of an underlying mental disorder. Hoarding behavior may begin or escalate after a major trauma such as an illness or loss of a family member.
  • Even after animals are removed from the premises, hoarding is characterized by a nearly 100% rate of recidivism, particularly when the underlying mental health issue remains untreated.

Hoarders compulsively accumulate animals to serve emotional needs and desire for control. Animal hoarders might view themselves as the saviors and caretakers of animals unwanted by the rest of society. They derive a sense of self importance from this belief.  Coupled with the intense emotional attachment to the animals, a hoarder’s self-view as a rescuer makes it doubly difficult for the hoarder to relinquish animals.

Ways to Combat Animal Hoarding in Your Community

  • When acquiring a new companion animal, ensure you will be able to provide the animal with adequate care and plan for how your animals will be cared for in the event of relocation or financial hardship.
  • If you must relinquish a companion animal, screen potential families before turning over the animal.
  • Currently only two states, Illinois and Hawaii have laws that specifically apply to animal hoarding. However, some communities have county or city ordinances setting a maximum number of animals per residence. Know the laws in your area, and support legislation to combat animal hoarding.
  • Support animal shelters and low-cost spay and neuter programs.
  • Report suspected cases of animal hoarding to animal control.
  • Consider reporting hoarding cases to child protective services and adult protective services. Hoarding is not only a danger to animals in a home, but often present a fire hazard and public health hazard.
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