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Pet Hoarding - What Can You Do to Help?

I remember the first time I saw a case of on the news. It was shocking; neighbors of an elderly lady, concerned for her health, called authorities to check in on her. They discovered her in ailing health - along with approximately 50 dead, dying, or diseased cats. The home was covered in feces, urine, and garbage, and the authorities stated that the stench was overwhelming. The local SPCA humanely euthanized all but two of the cats, who were the only ones who were had a good chance of regaining their health.

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Unfortunately, pet hoarding isn't as rare as we'd like to think. It's considered a mental disorder, and hoarders often think that the animals are healthy and that they are doing the animals a favor by 'taking care' of them. They often don't recognize that the pets are in poor condition and need help.

There are laws to protect pets. If you have reason to believe that someone may be hoarding dogs, cats, or other pets, discuss the situation with your local humane society or call the authorities to investigate. Some indicators may include:

  • A strong smell of urine or feces, detectable from outside the home;

  • An unusually large number of animals always around, visible in the yard or through the windows of the home;

  • New animals appear around the home regularly, or more often than would be considered 'normal';

  • Pets in poor body condition regularly seen around the home;

  • Large piles of garbage, newspapers, or other material - hoarders sometimes collect things other than just pets.

  • Overall run-down condition of the home.

Please keep in mind that simply a large number of pets in a household isn't the same thing as hoarding. Provided that the pets are all well cared for, and are healthy and happy, then their human is doing a fine job. Hoarding occurs when someone takes in more pets than they can properly care for.

Pet hoarding causes great suffering by the animals who don't have any means of caring for themselves. By placing a phone call to ask for help, you may be saving the lives of the animals at the, as well as getting the person the help they need too. More information on animal hoarding is available from the ASPCA website.