Animal hoarding is a sickness that is related to hoarding other items. The people involved in the activity find comfort in surrounding themselves with as many animals as possible. It leads them to continue to increase the number of pets on their property. In many cases, as space becomes crowded, the animals are placed in crates or tied in unsanitary living conditions. Some animal hoarders provide adequate food and water for the animals, but most of the time, the animals suffer from starvation, neglect, and lack of medical attention. We learned about a situation in Winsted involving a hoarding situation that broke our hearts.
150 cats removed from Connecticutt home in case of hoarding
A concerned citizen reported a case of animal neglect, which triggered a response from several agencies in Winsted, Connecticut. Rescue teams arrived at the home and discovered that the people who lived there had since moved away. They left the animals behind, according to NBCC. They discovered at least 150 cats living in the home. It’s one of the worst cases of animal hoarding the town manager has seen. Several people occupied the house, then abandoned the animals without making provisions for their care. Animal rescue workers removed 150 of the cats from the home, but they believe that more are hiding within the walls. They’ve set out traps to catch them to bring them to a safe environment where they will receive any medical care necessary, food, water, and shelter. The occupants also left behind a ferret and two dogs. The cats are being housed at the Batcheller School until they’re either adopted into forever homes or placed in foster arrangements. The manager reports that twelve of the cats required medical treatment and were taken to an emergency vet for care. Most of the animals were otherwise healthy but required treatment for flea infestations. The rescue is asking for donations to help cover the costs of medical expenses, food, and shelter. They’re also asking for volunteers to provide care for the abandoned cats.
The sad sickness of hoarding
The ASPCA explains that animal hoarding is a complicated problem that happens when an individual takes more animals into their home than they can care for. It’s a mental health issue that crosses the lines into public safety and animal welfare territory. Pet owners are required to provide adequate space for shelter with regular food, water, and sanitary conditions. Animal hoarders tend to overbreed their stock or take in strays off the street. Their sense of reality is altered as most do not realize that they’re causing harm through lack of medical care, or a clean and healthy environment. The ASPCA works with social welfare agencies to help pet owners obtain vaccinations and other medical care and to provide for the nutritional needs of the animals under their care. They also assist with spaying and neutering services. When hoarding situations are reported and the investigations turn up evidence of neglect, animals may be removed from the home, even if the occupants still live there. If mentally capable, some animals are left in the home as long as they provide adequate care for the remaining pets. In some cases, police assistance is required to enter the home to provide rescue services. Hoarders tend to deny reality and do not realize the gravity of the situation. Animals are rescued from homes that starve them, deny medical help, and keep them stacked in unsanitary cages with no room for exercise.
What causes animal hoarding?
The Anxiety and Depression Society of America explains that each year authorities receive over 3,500 reports of animal hoarding. More than a quarter of a million animals are impacted by hoarding, according to the situations reported. When rescuers arrive, the statistics show that 80 percent of the hoarding situations have dead, dying, or diseased animals on the premises. Most hoarders also hoard other items and all will relapse into hoarding behaviors if they do not receive treatment. Animal hoarding is a compulsive disorder that creates a need to own animals to give them care. It’s often a response to a traumatic situation such as loss. The hoarders form a strong emotional attachment to the animals, but most become oblivious to acts of neglect and cruelty to the animals that happen in most cases. It’s as though they wear blinders and even dead animals do not jolt them into reality. These people require cognitive behavioral therapy to understand their mental illness and learn ways to move beyond the behaviors. Friends and family who observe these behaviors are not likely to get through to them. Anger is a common response, but it is not helpful as it feeds the cycle of feeling worthless and isolated. It makes the animal hoarders have a more intense need to collect animals. It’s best to seek professional intervention and get help for loved ones experiencing these issues. Sometimes it’s necessary to do the hard thing and report loved ones to the authorities, but it’s in the best interest of the hoarder and the animals under care.
The story about 150 cats, 2 dogs, and a ferret left to starve in an abandoned house is heartbreaking. Fortunately, help arrived in time to move them to a place of care, support, and safety. Not all animals in hoarding situations get that lucky. Many die in squalor and suffer for months or even years before they pass away. If you suspect an animal hoarding situation, the best thing to do is to let someone in authority know about it, so they can perform a thorough investigation. Too many people don’t want to get involved because they feel it’s none of their business, but we should all show concern for vulnerable animals suffering and dying.