Animal rescuers and lovers often find it difficult to turn away any animal in need. Some feel that they are the only one that can give an injured, abandoned, neglected, or abused animal a chance at a better life. However, what happens when the rescuer’s desire to help animals exceeds their means to do so? The helper becomes a hoarder.
Hoarding animals is the possession of unusually large numbers of domestic animals without the ability to properly care for them. Hoarders often deny their inability to take care of their pets and view their actions as helpful to the animals. In reality, their actions only contribute to insufficient funds for medical care, inadequate housing, and poor sanitary conditions for their pets. Animal advocates find themselves in tough positions when trying to convince hoarders to give up their pets and let others try to find better homes for them. The hoarder cannot let go of their deep desire to help an animal long enough to clearly examine the result of their actions.
Just yesterday, on October 24, more than one hundred and fifty cats, dogs, and rabbits were taken from someone’s home in Rockingham County, North Carolina. Local law enforcement, members of the United States Humane Society, local veterinarians, and animal control officers came together to act on multiple complaints received from people living near and passing by the home. People reported sights and smells indicating inhumane living conditions for the animals. Upon arrival, a veterinarian immediately examined the animals. Many of them had upper respiratory infections, eye infections, and were infested with parasites. Altogether, more than one hundred of them were euthanized due to poor health.
An animal shelter in nearby Orange County, NC took twenty animals in for treatment and future placement. The rest of the animals remain at the Rockingham County Animal Shelter, already operating at capacity. Many of the remaining animals may be sent off to surrounding shelters with space to aid in finding homes for them.
Hoarding animals is a problem that needs intervention from animal advocates on all levels. Animal advocate groups should take time to educate local law enforcement officers, animal control workers, and veterinarians how to recognize and report possible hoarding situations. Animal rescue groups should provide educational outreach programs encouraging participants to realize their own limits in animal care. Together animal advocates may be able to reduce the incidence of hoarding in their own community, thereby improving the lives of the animals who may have otherwise been subjected to further suffering. Luckily, someone spoke up for the animals in Rockingham County, and help arrived. However, this was the second time these pet owners had animals seized from their home as a result of hoarding.
Education is essential to the prevention of hoarding. People need to know when what they perceive as helpful is really harmful, and often detrimental, to animals in need. If you suspect hoarding in your community, contact your local animal control office or humane society. If you would like to adopt an animal seized from this Rockingham County home, please contact the Rockingham County Animal Shelter or the Orange County Animal Shelter.