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Signs of Animal Hoarding & How Professionals Can Intervene

Signs of Animal Hoarding & How Professionals Can Intervene - Bio-One of Marion County

While owning a pet can bring endless joy, some individuals tend to take their love for animals too far, leading to animal hoarding. Animal hoarding commonly affects individuals who have a passionate desire to save animals, leading them to collect more pets than they can responsibly take care of. Unfortunately, they might be dealing with unaddressed psychological, social, and financial issues, making them unable to provide adequate care for the animals in their possession. In this blog post, we will discuss four signs of animal hoarding and how professionals can assist in intervening for those in need.

Overcrowded Living Spaces

When owners start to accumulate more pets than their housing can accommodate, animals can end up living in cramped and unsanitary conditions. This overcrowding can lead to an unhealthy environment, making it challenging for pets to receive proper exercise and care.

Obsessive Behavior Toward Animals

Individuals struggling with animal hoarding often display obsessive behavior toward their pets, such as obsessive cleaning, repeated feeding, and grooming routines, and an inability to give up any of their animals. This behavior can cause a severe lack of time for other personal needs, leading to adverse effects such as personal hygiene neglect.

Unawareness of Sanitary Conditions

Another sign of animal hoarding is an unawareness or lack of concern for the sanitary conditions surrounding animals. Hoarders can become so preoccupied with their animals that they don't recognize unhealthy conditions such as a buildup of animal waste, piles of garbage, and unhygienic living areas in general. This can lead to a rapid spread of disease among the pets and can even put other people in close proximity at risk.

Poor Animal Continuous Health

Overcrowded living conditions, poor ventilation, and inadequate food and water supplies all create an unwelcoming environment for pets that is detrimental to their health. Animals may develop respiratory problems, skin irritations, and infections, among other health issues if they are not given regular health check-ups.

Additionally, substantial amounts of time are often poured into taking care of a high number of animals, resulting in owners becoming detached from family, friends, and the rest of the world. This isolation can lead to erratic behavior.

Addressing Animal Hoarding Situations

Addressing animal hoarding situations often involves a combination of legal, mental health, and animal welfare interventions. Legal action is frequently necessary to remove the animals from the harmful environment and ensure they receive proper care. These animals are typically rehomed through animal rescue organizations, which provide them with medical treatment and work to find them safe, suitable homes.

Simultaneously, mental health professionals often need to work with the individual to help them understand the harm their behavior is causing both to them and their animals. This could involve Cognitive-behavioral Therapy, medication, or other forms of mental health treatment. Keep in mind, that animal hoarding is often a symptom of a larger mental health issue, and treating it requires addressing these underlying problems.

Photo by @user8531954 - Freepik.

Lastly, preventative measures are crucial in addressing animal hoarding situations. This involves education about responsible pet ownership, monitoring potential hoarding situations, and promoting spaying and neutering to prevent pet overpopulation.

Bio-One of Marion County is Ready to Help

It can be challenging to accept or recognize animal hoarding, but we hope these signs can help you identify and take prompt action if you witness this type of behavior.

At Bio-One of Marion County, our dedicated professionals offer animal hoarding cleanup services to clear out and sanitize properties, providing a safe and healthy environment after the removal of animals and identifying any necessary repairs. If you or someone you know requires assistance with animal hoarding, do not hesitate to contact our experts at Bio-One!

Hoarding Remediation Services Blog Post

Have you ever seen hoarding shows on TV? Our team has first-hand experience remediating these situations with care and compassion. From clutter, trash, to animal hoarding, we understand that the removal of items can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming for families involved. Bio-One will make it a priority to establish trust to ensure everyone is comfortable and ready for each day to begin. 

It's as simple as 1, 2, 3.

First, we always offer estimates at no cost to you. An experienced crew leader will tour the home and propose a plan based on your needs, expectations, and goals. 

Second, our certified technicians are trained to be mindful of all possessions. We make it a priority to find and save items of value whether that's a wallet, coin collections, legal documents, photo albums, or baseball cards. 

Third, we want to make sure you are 100% satisfied and happy with our work. If for some reason something else needs to be done, we are here for you. 

Call Bio-One today to learn how we can help

Animal hoarding occurs in communities across the U.S. and researchers estimate that hoarding accounts for the suffering and death of over 250,000 animals each year. For instance, if you search the news section on Google for “Animal Hoarding” you will find recent stories all over the U.S. 

Most recently, we’ve seen:

These dire conditions cause immense suffering for both animals and people, while overwhelming local animal shelters. So how can you help? The first step, is education. 

In this post, we’ll answer and provide resources to common animal hoarding questions. 

What is considered animal hoarding?

According to the ASPCA, 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.

What causes animal hoarding?

Often, the behavior of animal hoarding begins after an illness, disability, or difficult life event. In most situations, the owner sees the animals as a major source of love, and they have the best of intentions of caring for their animals. However, overtime they become overwhelmed and unable to make decisions which leads to unintentional neglect or abuse. 

The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that hoarders also have an intense emotional attachment to their animals. They avoid the pain of letting go of things that seem very special, even when clutter prevents comfortable living. Like object hoarders, animal hoarders believe that things should be saved for some special event, even if the event never happens. They 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. 

“The sometimes hundreds of dog or cat victims of a single hoarder generally show signs of abuse such as severe malnutrition, untreated medical conditions including open sores, cancers, and advanced dental and eye diseases, and severe psychological distress.” - Animal Legal Defense Fund

Who is most likely to hoard animals?

The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium reviewed the case records of 71 incidents from across the United States and Canada to determine what characterizes a typical animal hoarding case. Of the cases reviewed, here’s what they discovered:

  • 83% involved women
  • 53% of the animal hoarding residences were home to other individuals including children (5%)
  • 21% were elderly dependents and disabled people 

There are also commonalities in the living environment. Often essential utilities and major appliances such as showers, heaters, stoves, toilets, and sinks were not functional. 70% of the homes had fire hazards and 16% of the residences were condemned as unfit for human habitation.

At Bio-One, the circumstances as described in the research findings above are common for our teams. Animal waste can be unsafe when not properly contained and regularly cleaned, as well as human urine and feces. Learn more about Bio-One’s hoarding services. 

What happens to animals after they are rescued?

Sue Marue the founder of the Arizona based cat rescue Ark Cat Sanctuaryspoke with our Bio-One Mesa, AZ team and said:

We have taken in dozens and dozens of cats from all over Arizona that have been rescued from hoarders. The lucky ones can be up for adoption within weeks. But for some, they will never be ready for adoption and will live out their days at Ark or we cannot save them because they are just too sick. We have one little tabby that we rescued from a hoarder in Phoenix over a year ago that just last week allowed us to pet her and love her. Sometimes it takes that long. The problem with that is most rescues cannot take a year for an animal to come around. They don't have that kind of space or time. It isn't their fault, it is just how it is. We deal with overpopulation, under-funding and just not enough help. Unfortunately, it’s the animals that suffer. 

Bio-One animal hoarding case study

In a 2018 blog post, the Bio-One team in Orlando described circumstances that led their team to remediating an animal hoarding situation:

“Bio-One cleaned out a home in Polk County, Florida, when a Hoarder was discovered by pure coincidence. The Hoarder was to be evicted from the rental property due to nonpayment. The local Sherriff's office came to evict him from the property and this was when the situation of Hoarding was discovered. He had been hoarding many dogs within the home and living in deplorable conditions. Animal Control came out and confiscated the animals. The Hoarder was taken into custody at the moment of discovery. The whole situation was incredibly sad and ultimately could have been avoided...”

Read the entire story on their blog

How Can You Help?

The most immediate ways to make in impact in your community is to contact your local animal rescue to make a donation or volunteer your time. Also, if you see an animal in distress, contact your local authorities.

If you think someone you know is struggling with animal hoarding, lists important steps to ensure the animals are quickly helped and the hoarder receives the support they require.