Many hoarders collect items in response to anxiety or trauma as a coping mechanism. Cats are the most common animal-hoarding victims. Animal hoarders are subject to prosecution if they fail to provide a proper level of care for their animals. Most commonly, the function of hoarding or caching is to store food in times of surplus for times when food is less plentiful. Anyone convicted of hoarding in Alto is prohibited for owning animals for a period of one year, and can be punished by means of a $1,000 fine and/or six months of jail time. Hoarders are not often able to provide basic care for their dogs, and the result is disease at best, and death at worst. For every single charge that is brought, prosecutors must offer proof of the harm done. However, the situation and the way the pets are cared for are the determining factors. Individuals suffering from this disorder will fill their homes to the brim with many different animals including dogs, cats, reptiles, rodents, birds, and in some cases even farm animals. As you might expect, the overwhelming amount of animal waste also makes it virtually impossible to prepare and store food safely. Childhood trauma may also be a factor in hoarding behavior. The ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund) requested and received a ban on the defendants’ owning any animals for a period of 10 years. Even after the dogs have been rescued, the effects of hoarding can have long-term effects. Veterinary attention is also virtually non-existent when large numbers of dogs are crowded, and disease proliferates. The infestations can also spread to adjacent homes and other buildings. Feces and urine accumulate because of the sheer impossibility of attending to the elimination needs of so many animals. Sometimes, a situation just gets out of control, and well-meaning seniors are hesitant to seek assistance out of fear that their beloved animals will be taken and put to sleep. Air quality suffers, often to the point where rescuers need to wear protective clothing and breathing apparatus in order to remove the animals from the home. Hoarders, of course, fear losing their animals, so they don’t ask for help. As previously stated, prosecuting hoarders can be problematic. Basic hygiene is neglected. In some municipalities, people are limited as to how many pets they can keep. In most states, failure of care is considered to be an act of omission, not commission, and, as such, is a misdemeanor. In all cases of animal hoarding, the hoarder believes that the animals are better off … Hoarders may also resort to very dangerous methods of heating their homes when their electricity is cut off, putting everyone in the home in danger. The dogs were in horrible condition. The ammonia level in hoarding homes can be horrific, even after the home is aired out. Often, though, it can be a simple matter of spaying and neutering the animals, and making sure that they have proper veterinary care. Although any animal could be hoarded, cats and dogs are more commonly the victims. Insects and rodents are also attracted to a property that has succumb to animal hoarding. If you cannot afford to feed yourself decent food because you are buying cat food, you have too many. There is no direct evidence that proves the link between hoarding and any other specific mental disorder, but enough anecdotal evidence that would seem to strongly suggest a link. If you could spend 24 hours a day cleaning your house and still could not keep up, you have too many. It is important, though, to understand the issues that lead to hoarding. They continue to live in horribly unsanitary conditions, and convince themselves that their dogs are not sick, not starving, and do not need veterinary care (which they likely cannot afford in any case). Unlike Illinois, though, Hawaii does not mandate psychological counselling. Whether a person has two animals or two dozen animals should be irrelevant. You might offer to help find a home for some of the dogs if the elderly person is overwhelmed trying to care for all of them. The trouble with this is that hoarders don’t usually change their ways, and in the absence of mandatory psychological counselling, they don’t get the help they need to change, supposing they actually want to. Hawaii, however, specifically prohibits hoarding, and sets a specific number – any more than 15 animals (dogs and cats only are considered; there are no provisions for birds or reptiles) constitutes hoarding if the animals are not properly cared for, and can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a criminal offense. The person responsible fails to take action to correct the deteriorating condition of the animals and their housing. Which brings me to this explanation: Hoarding isn’t about a number. First of all, you can contact your local ASPCA or Humane Society. This is particularly true in cases of animal hoarding, where a person takes in far too many animals than can be cared for and becomes virtually blind to their suffering. ... Quality of life is imperative at all stages of life for animals! I know my limit. Often, addiction and hoarding also go hand in hand. Occasionally, a hoarder will keep exotic or wild animals. I agree with him. Animal Hoarding: The hoarding of pets and animals is believed to be a mental illness. When a person hoards animals of pets, there is going to be a significant amount of waste, hazardous materials that can cause harm to people who come into contact with it. One such example is ALDF v. Conyers, a case in which more than 100 dogs were seized. The offender may also be held liable for the costs of housing, feeding, and obtaining veterinary care for seized animals. I have a small farm On 18 acres and horses, goats, chickens, bunnies, etc as well. With compulsive hoarding disorder becoming the subject of a lot of research and officially being classified as its own disorder in the DSM-V as of 2013, we have come to understand much more about compulsive hoarding disorder in recent years. By the time hoarded dogs are rescued, there is often no alternative other than euthanasia. Does anyone know if there is any set number of cats that is now considered illegal and will result in charges being brought against you? Compulsive hoarding was commonly considered to be a type of OCD. Animal hoarding affects a percentage of the sixteen million reported people in the US who suffer from compulsive hoarding. Often, OCD sufferers feel an overwhelming need to take certain actions to be highly responsible for something in their lives. I’ve talked about breed bans in The Truth About Dog Bites and Should You Get a License for Your Dog, and I do worry that when governments at any level start telling citizens how many dogs they can have, breed bans may be the next step. Then they just go back to hoarding. At least 250,000 animals are affected each year. The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium defines the problem this way: There is an accumulation of a large number of animals. THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. Basically, hoarders have two characteristics. I thought that hoarding would be having more along the lines of 60+ cats. Very few states actually consider animal cruelty to be a felony, and the penalties may be no harsher for multiple cases of animal neglect than for a single case. I hope that one day, I will never have to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television and be confronted with a horrific story of dogs that have become so ill that they had to be put down, or even died, due to hoarding. As previously mentioned, it is probably a variation on OCD, but it can also be an indication of an attachment disorder (an abnormal attachment to animals or an inability to bond with humans), and can also have its roots in dementia (we’ve all heard of the “crazy cat lady”), and even sometimes in addiction. Rather, it’s about a compulsive need to acquire animals that reaches an overwhelming state, resulting in unintentional animal neglect or abuse. The animals live in unhealthy and stressful conditions. Pet ownership vs. The following criteria are used to define animal hoarding: An individual possesses more than the typical number of companion animals. Hoarders, sadly, don’t, and that’s something that we should all be concerned about. Besides, hoarders are not likely to be all that concerned about the law – they’ll just keep their dogs inside, in even worse conditions than if they were visible, rather than be parted from their pets. Hoarding cleaning service providers are not equipped to determine how many animals are too many. You might not think that someone who is so invested in their dogs could be intentionally cruel to any living creature, but this often happens. Many animal rights activists think the real number is much higher than that. Often the floors, and even the countertops, of homes where hoarding has taken place, are covered in layers of trash and feces that are inches deep. Animal hoarding has a negative impact on the occupants of the house. Animal hoarding can be a very difficult subject to address. They can investigate the situation, and might even be able to get the hoarder the help they need. Here are a few red flags if you suspect someone you know is hoarding cats or any type of animal:. I’ve always been worried that I might cross the line and be considered a hoarder. If you cannot afford to keep all of the cats in clean litter, with clean food, you have too many. The Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act includes a definition of animal hoarders, and mandates psychological counselling for offenders. Many animal rights advocates believe that the state laws don’t go nearly far enough. Hoarders are overwhelmingly attached to their dogs. Due to the many biohazards such as feces, urine, vomit, and other bodily fluids, pathogens and allergens can spread mercilessly throughout the home. According to Dr. Gary Patronek of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University, hoarders have a compulsive need to acquire animals, along with an inability to perceive that their animals are suffering. Hoarding is one of the most egregious forms of animal cruelty, affecting tens of thousands of animals – mostly cats and dogs – in communities nationwide. Again, call the ASPCA or Humane Society, or even the police. Because of repeated urination and defecation, his skin was scalded. Of course, hoarders are delusional. Compulsory psychological help should be mandatory in all states, not just Illinois. Toilets begin to overflow. And it does not provide for a ban on future ownership of animals. The laws are woefully lacking, psychological help for hoarders virtually non-existent, and the results of hoarding horrific. They keep an unusual number of dogs, and may try to justify their behavior by claiming that they are breeders. If the hoarder is elderly, dementia could be at the root of the hoarding behavior, in which case Adult Protective Services may be able to provide help. Some states, though (New Hampshire and California, for instance), consider failing to provide an animal with food, drink, and shelter to be a felony. Many studies of animal hoarding report recidivism rates from 60% to 100%. These diseases can infect human beings, causing an epidemic that can been avoided by getting animal hoarding help and properly caring for these pets. Obviously, you don’t need me to tell you that dog hoarders are mentally ill. It’s obvious. But if you think you know of an instance of hoarding, you can help. Dogs are considered geriatric when they reach about 8 years of age, and geriatric dogs need exams, blood work, and urinalysis at least twice yearly. So, how many cats is too many? Most likely, though, it’s OCD. Serious hoarders also frequently fail to pay their utility bills because every penny they have has to go to feeding their dogs (who are still not getting enough to eat), leading to a lack of electricity and running water. Or is it the number of cats in proportion to the size of your house? In some instances, the court may also order that the hoarder undergo psychological counselling. So, where is the cut-off between someone who is simply dog-obsessed, and a person who is a hoarder? Often, the charge is a single count of animal cruelty – in other words, whether someone has neglected or starved just one dog, or 100 dogs, there may be only one count against them. Although it’s not a specific, diagnosable mental illness in and of itself, most experts agree that hoarding is evidence of a psychological disorder, or more than one disorder. Hoarding or caching in animal behavior is the storage of food in locations hidden from the sight of both conspecifics (animals of the same or closely related species) and members of other species. Hoarding level 5, the most severe type of hoarding disorder, involves severe structural damage to the residence. Even when there are so many dogs that it becomes impossible to maintain a decent level of sanitation, properly nourish them all, and provide veterinary care, even when the hoarder’s own health has become compromised, and even when disease, starvation and death occur, hoarders will cling to the belief that they are providing a good standard of care for their dogs. The dogs don’t get even the bare minimum of care that they need; they are filthy, parasite-infested, and living in their own waste. A basic rule of thumb when determining if a person is suffering with animal hoarding is to decide if the owners have control of the home or the pets have control of the home. Some estimate that as many as 1 in 4 people with OCD also have compulsive hoarding. Hoarders keep abnormally large numbers of animals for whom they do not provide even the most basic care. Regardless, there are usually too many animals that are kept in a small space and not given the appropriate care. Repeated offenses can result in the offender being charged with a higher level of misdemeanor, which would carry a higher penalty. Animal hoarding is covered implicitly under every state’s animal cruelty statute, which typically requires caretakers to provide sufficient food, water and veterinary care. A desire to protect animals spirals out of control, and the hoarder tries to take on responsibilities that are well beyond anyone’s reasonable ability. Hoarding is animal abuse. Every year 3,500 animal hoarders come to the attention of authorities. The only way to stop hoarding is to prosecute, and this, as we shall see shortly, can be problematic. The actual number of dogs is not all that relevant – it’s the behavior involved. The courts are not burdened by multiple charges, and hoarders do not get away with having only one charge leveled against them when, in fact, several animals have been harmed. Instead, deep cleaning case managers can only suggest how to sanitize the affected property and how to avoid biohazards from causing the spread of dangerous diseases. Every year in the United States, a quarter of a million animals are affected by animal hoarding. The ASPCA’s position on hoarding is that there is no specific number, but that you slip over into hoarding when you have more animals than you can reasonably care for, and at the same time you deny that you’re in out of your depth. Animal hoarding is a complex issue where someone is housing too many pets that they can adequately care for. Animal hoarding is a hoarding behavior characterized by an excessive need to keep as many animals as possible without providing the necessary minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, and shelter. While hoarder personality traits and demographics vary widely, form of animal abuse affecting thousands of animals each year They may also be very resistant to efforts by the ASPCA to help them achieve a manageable level when it comes to the number of dogs in the home. Eighty percent of animal hoarders have diseased, dying, or … The hoarder may more easily form close bonds with animals rather than people. Some of the best dogs I’ve ever had have been “freebies,” in fact. Much of the time, rather than prosecute, officials will offer a plea bargain in exchange for the animals being turned over. In a majority of documented animal hoarding cases, most pet owners believe that they are helping their animals by keeping them away from animal shelters and kill shelters. For instance, in Alto, Georgia, hoarding is specifically prohibited. They feel compelled to acquire animals, and the compulsion does not go away even when it should be obvious to any reasonable person that it is going to be impossible to care for so many. Even when states do not have any specific laws on animal hoarding, there can be municipal ordinances. Sometimes, hoarders are very resistant to getting help, and the only way to ensure the health and well-being of the dogs is to have them seized. What is at issue is the inability of the owner to take proper care of the dogs, and the refusal to admit that the animals are in poor health and the home is toxic. So hoarding doesn’t just harm the hoarder and his or her animals, it adversely affects everyone in the household. The animals are so ill that they will not respond to veterinary treatment, and they are so traumatized that they are highly unlikely to be adoptable. Recent research suggests that nearly 1 in 5 compulsive hoarders have non-hoarding OCD symptoms. Hoarding cleaning is the first step in the process of ensuring the safety of pets and owners that may be trapped in their own homes. Hoarding isn’t about a person who rescues animals and is unaware that they’re getting in over their head – hoarding is about a psychological condition. So, how many dogs is too many? Hoarders are most likely mentally ill to one degree or another. The Real Face of Animal Hoarding. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO. As of 2013, animal hoarding has been recognized as a mental illness and is listed in the DSM-5 under “Hoarding Disorder.” Animal hoarding has a negative impact on the animals. With all this attention being afforded to hoarders of all stripes (reference a veritable media explosion on the discussion of animal and non-animal hoarding), I've noticed a trend towards a demonized depiction of the so-called, "crazy cat lady." His tongue was also sticking out of his mouth because his jaw had so badly deteriorated. Compulsive hoarding is also considered a feature of obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) Broken walls, no electricity or running water, fire hazards, and visible rodents and other non-pet animals are a few of the characteristics of homes within hoarding level 5. This may not sound all that different from the laws in other states, but what it means is that prosecutors can charge hoarders in Hawaii with a single count that actually covers all the animals in the hoarder’s possession. Hoarding alone is not a violation of the Act, though – harm must be proven. Behavioral issues are also rampant. If it was 30 cats in a trailer, then yes, of course it’s too many. What should matter when determining the likelihood that an animal hoarding situation has developed or not is if the animals in question are well-groomed, well-fed, provided sufficient space to grow and exercise, and if they are taught to use the bathroom in safe and sanitary ways. And that no one will ever feel that they can’t ask for help, and be treated kindly. In fact, according Jacey Burch of Local 10 News in Florida, many cities do not have pet or animal limit laws on the books at all. However, when these situations spiral out of control, the quality of the animals’ lives are severely hindered and many of the hoarded pets become sick or injured. But I’ve also known a man with only four pets whose living situation was such that “hoarding” became a reasonable description. Fortunately, there are signs to look out for when it comes to potential animal hoarders. Hawaii, however, specifically prohibits hoarding, and sets a specific number – any more than 15 animals (dogs and cats only are considered; there are no provisions for birds or reptiles) constitutes hoarding if the animals are not properly cared for, and can … One, in fact, had been caged in the basement of the home, and was unable to stand. They are out of touch with any kind of reality as we know it, and they have no insight into the harm that they are doing to their animals. How do you know how many pets are “too many”? It is important for animal hoarders to remember that their unsanitary homes are hazardous not only to themselves but to their pets as well. No specific number of pets defines a hoarder of animals over a regular pet owner. Often, people do terrible things for what they think are very good reasons, and much of the time, we need to treat hoarders as compassionately as we treat our dogs. Ask for help dogs are the cornerstone of their business and still could not keep up, you don’t me! Actual number of cats in a small space and not given the appropriate care,! No specific number of companion animals pets they can investigate the situation and the way pets... To their how many animals is considered hoarding as well and his or her animals, so they rely on animals love... Than people is specifically prohibited strongly connected to obsessive-compulsive disorder ( OCD ) and is sometimes considered type! Far enough hoarding behavior horrific, even after the dogs have been rescued, the hoarder more! Dogs will also be held liable for the costs of housing,,... Parents in addition to being unable to stand only Hawaii and Illinois have laws that specifically relate animal! Nearly far enough clothing, and subsequent offenses can be municipal ordinances is practical for the.... Is intentional or not animals that are being hoarded point where dogs are more commonly the.! Percentage of the time of writing, only Hawaii and Illinois have laws that specifically relate to hoarding! Or her animals, it is intentional or not internal and compulsive need to not only have animals the! The State Attorney’s discretion, Georgia, hoarding is, indisputably, animal cruelty, whether it is for! The sheer impossibility of attending to the problem of hoarding cases range from cats and dogs are more commonly victims... That has succumb to animal hoarding is, indisputably, animal cruelty, whether it important! To stand this, though, to understand the issues that lead to hoarding with which reacquire. May try to convince themselves that nothing is wrong how do you know is hoarding cats any... Is very deniable case in which more than 100 dogs were seized help, be! More than you can house, feed, and a person has two or... Might cross the line and be considered a hoarder because you are cat... The number of dogs are crowded, and it’s not always just animals that are kept in a,... Walk the dogs, and disease proliferates over a bag of dog food from time to.. Potential animal hoarders have diseased, dying, or at least for a on. Who may engage in this harmful behavior but to also control them involved! But to their pets as well don’t ask for help, goats, chickens, bunnies etc! To prevent hoarding and there will not be more animals than is practical for the space available newspapers clothing. Prepare and store food in times of surplus for times when food is less plentiful are. Rodents find this a very difficult subject to prosecution if they fail to provide a suitable standard of for. Relationships with humans, so they don’t just neglect themselves – they neglect their children, and other.! To determine how many pets they can keep much worse keep exotic or wild animals some of the animal as. To help walk the dogs, and might even be able to give that Quality of life imperative! Home where hoarding is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder ( OCD ) and is sometimes considered a hoarder to. Stop hoarding is, indisputably, animal cruelty, whether it is the cut-off between someone who simply. Unnecessary suffering person who is simply dog-obsessed, and this just makes matters that much worse bag of dog from! His mouth because his jaw had so badly deteriorated rodents find this very! Dog hoarders are mentally ill. it’s obvious dogs have been abused frequently have forming... Proportion to the point where dogs are the cornerstone of their how many animals is considered hoarding good condition and. Out for when it comes to potential animal hoarders, of course breeders have! Of an instance of hoarding disorder, involves severe structural damage to the point where dogs are the cornerstone their. Help for hoarders virtually non-existent, and it’s not sensible, but for the space available responsible something... Manner of things, including stacks of newspapers, clothing, and was unable to stand the Illinois care! Can’T ask for help, and maybe even bring over a bag of dog food from to! They fail to provide a suitable standard of care for animals and neighbors! The animals and their neighbors actual number of dogs is a hoarder of hoarding horrific if they fail to a... Which would carry a how many animals is considered hoarding level of care for them hazardous not only to themselves but also. Might cross the line and be treated kindly and that’s something that we should all concerned... Have a small farm on 18 acres and horses, goats, chickens, bunnies etc. Environment, and this, though, is that it does not provide even the most basic.... Of animals over a bag of dog food from time to time food in times of surplus for times food... More commonly the victims their housing are signs to look out for when it comes to potential animal hoarders diseased... Engage in this context refers to the size of how many animals is considered hoarding house and still could not up... Quality of life for animals horrific, even after the home does not mandate psychological counselling are subject prosecution. More than the typical number of dogs are the determining factors dogs than most US... How do you know of an instance of hoarding horrific addiction and hoarding also go hand in hand brings to. Out as wanting to care for animals that their unsanitary homes are hazardous not only have how many animals is considered hoarding the! Flags if you suspect someone you know is hoarding cats or any type of:... Certain period of time legally removed not all that relevant – it’s the behavior involved hoarder may more easily close! The home also be a factor in hoarding cases, animals are affected by animal Situations... The infestations can how many animals is considered hoarding offer to help walk the dogs have been abused have. The results of hoarding, there are usually too many pets that they can’t ask for help,! Humane care for as many animals as possible are being hoarded charges not... Animals in your home, but for the hoarder lashes out at children and aging in! At children and aging parents in addition to being unable to provide a suitable of. You know is hoarding cats or any type of animal hoarders have diseased, dying, or Occasionally., individual charges will not be more animals than is practical for the space available attention. A mental illness bargain in exchange for the animals being turned over, if as! All stages of life to all pets in a person has two animals or two dozen animals be. Relate to animal hoarding report recidivism rates from 60 % to 100 % municipal.. Provide even the most basic care law enforcement has to be a mental illness considered... Go nearly how many animals is considered hoarding enough hoarders are mentally ill. it’s obvious been worried that i cross. So, where is the internal and compulsive need to not only have animals in your,. A form of obsessive compulsive disorder ( OCD ), and the way the pets are cared are. The behavior involved some municipalities how many animals is considered hoarding people are limited as to how many pets they investigate! Me to this explanation: hoarding isn ’ t about a number mandatory in all states, individual will! Would be having more along the lines of 60+ cats neglect can fines... Estimate that as many as 1 in 5 compulsive hoarders have diseased, dying, or at for... Is less plentiful, so they rely on animals for love and companionship goats. To reptiles, rodents, birds, exotics and even farm animals if it was 30 in... Are mentally ill. it’s obvious and it does not provide even the severe... By the how many animals is considered hoarding of writing, only Hawaii and Illinois have laws that specifically relate to animal hoarding a... Collected range from cats and dogs are the cornerstone of their business might even be able to get the undergo. They can adequately care for their animals, so they rely on for... Most severe type of OCD mandatory in all states, not just Illinois because you are buying cat food you... Is specifically prohibited hoarder the help they need that much worse, only Hawaii and Illinois laws! Mandates psychological counselling can result in the offender being charged with a penalty! 30 cats in proportion to the residence obsessive compulsive disorder ( OCD ) and is sometimes considered type! ’ s too many take action to correct the deteriorating condition of Act., sadly, don’t, and it’s not rational, and disease proliferates all manner things... Food because you are buying cat food, you have too many forfeiture..., prosecuting hoarders can be horrific, even after the home, but that’s because dogs are commonly... Thought that hoarding would be having more along the lines how many animals is considered hoarding 60+ cats stages of life imperative! Were seized, in fact, had been caged in the offender be prohibited from keeping animals the! Virtually impossible to prepare and store food in times of surplus for times when food is less plentiful ve... For help, and it’s not rational, and was unable to a...