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Hoarding

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http://www.tv3.ie/3player/show/819/101794/0/Animal-Rescue

Not sure if this can be accessed in the US, but the first 20 minutes feature a hoarding situation with a few collies. They don't look particularly thin to me, except for the old-looking one, but then the officer has her hands on them and can feel their condition, which I can't. That's the trouble with long-haired dogs!

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Yep, not available to view in my area. Probly the whole US.

 

Animal hoarding is appalling. Unfortunately, the vast majority of hoarding individuals never stop.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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Animal hoarding is awful. I have seen it several times. What struck me most was that the hoarders I met seemed to choose animals that were in very bad shape - physically and mentally - and very old animals. In other words the least adoptable. It was hard not to imagine that the hoarders identified with the animals, and wanted to save them for that reason.

 

It's odd - you hear about 'crazy cat ladies' all the time, but I rarely hear anyone say "crazy dog ladies." Dunno why. There are plenty of them out there.

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And it's hard to quantify a hoarder.

 

I know someone who is ABSOLUTELY a hoarder, and she only has two dogs and two cats. She gets animals extremely impulsively, and is trying to "save" them. Not to mention she breaks all housing laws to do so.

 

There are people on the Boards who very comfortably have 8, 10, 12 dogs.

 

Numbers don't always define a hoarder, making it hard to legislate.

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This was a lot of different animals, a small amount of dogs specifically. Pity the video isn't working, would have loved to get your feedback. They had some trouble negotiating with the woman, who initially just wanted them off their property, 'you have no right' to be here kind of thing. Eventually they got some of the dogs out of there (5 I think?), and the cats (15 or so), and talked to her about reducing her numbers of of sheep and goats, and ducks and chickens.

 

Piles of rubbish everywhere, the dogs were chained out in it, and had things like plastic-boxes-turned-sideways to sleep in. One was locked in a mobile-home-type thing, lots of feces, chained up in it. At the end I think it was she kept one dog, the oldest, and moved a kennel over for it.

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It's conditions, rather than amounts. I'm a professional organizer, and I have clients who have beautiful homes, packed with items on display that are well taken care of, and lovely to look at. I've worked with hoarders, as well. The difference is that hoarders keep things with no attention given to them beyond the keeping.

 

Animal hoarders are convinced that they are 'saving' the animals. They are unable to see that filthy conditions, lack of medical care and normal socialization are abusive. It's a part of a pattern of mental illness. Hoarding is often part of a constellation of mental problems - serious depression being one of them.

 

It's very sad for all involved.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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That´s why you shouldn´t quantify a hoarder, you should qualify them.

A hoarder is imo someone who takes on more animals than they can manage resulting in unacceptable poor living conditions for the animals involved.

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It's conditions, rather than amounts. I'm a professional organizer, and I have clients who have beautiful homes, packed with items on display that are well taken care of, and lovely to look at. I've worked with hoarders, as well. The difference is that hoarders keep things with no attention given to them beyond the keeping.

 

Animal hoarders are convinced that they are 'saving' the animals. They are unable to see that filthy conditions, lack of medical care and normal socialization are abusive. It's a part of a pattern of mental illness. Hoarding is often part of a constellation of mental problems - serious depression being one of them.

 

It's very sad for all involved.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

^ this

I am also a professional organizer, and I work with hoarders as well as other people. Some hoarders live in trailer parks, and hoard cardboard boxes; some in million dollar mansions and hoard designer clothes. What makes a person a hoarder is not necessarily how much stuff they have or what they collect, but rather whether or not the entire collection is taken care of and appreciated. If the designer clothes, tags still attached, are in piles on the garage floor with pack rat nests in them I call it hoarding. If the cardboard boxes are sorted and neatly stashed and being used occasionally then it is not really a problem. Same with animals. True hoarders do not take care of what they have because their priority is to get moremoremore rather than to care for what they have. It is a form of mental illness. Can be treated, but it is hard for them to break the cycle.

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To change the trajectory a bit, if I may -- for those of you who have seen hoarders get help, what works? I have a relative we're concerned is going that direction (not with animals, but the hoarding of stuff and not taking care of it) and we don't know how to help before it gets worse.

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TxMom, if you do a search for 'help for families of hoarders' there are a lot of hits. (There are several who are trying to sell a service, you can skip those.)

 

There are support groups, and check out www.hoarders.org - tons of resources. There's also a book by Dr. Randy Frost, the title is on the above web site.

 

I wish I could give you chapter and verse about what and how to help - it's a very difficult thing to deal with. Give the above site a glance, it's your best bet.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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Ruth, that's all I was looking for -- it's just hard to know where to start. Thank you! It's especially difficult because this person is several states away and may or may not cooperate. We'll offer what help we can, anyway.

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There is another kind of animal hoarder that I have come across. Hoarding is a form of OCD which I am familiar with since I have it myself although I have the checking over and over kind not the keeping stuff kind.

 

I have run into at least three people who have a lot of animals and think of themselves as these great noble rescuers. But they also have the kind of OCD where people clean stuff all the time and everything has to be in a certain order. The end result is that they have too many animals but everything is clean and organized.

 

In both situations the animals were pretty well taken care of. They had food and clean quarters and they went to the vet if they were really sick - usually. One of these people just lets them die if they get sick. And none of them are on heart worm meds or parasite control meds. One dog died from whipworms and another died from heartworm. But she still doesn't have them checked for parasites ever.

 

The problem is that these people do not have the resources to take care of a lot of animals. They have no way to move them on to permanent homes. And usually they don't have the money to take really good care of them. And they usually don't have the space you need to keep that many animals.

 

In the end the people get off on their ego trips about being noble and wonderful rescuers. And a lot of the animals end up dead either from sickness. Or in one case the owner just made horrible judgments and did things like leave a new dog loose in the house while she went to work and it killed 2 of the cats and the one poor old blind, deaf dog. She had been raided once and they took 14 cats and 2 dogs all of which were probably euthanized. It was no time at all and she had 6 more cats and 5 dogs. She was constantly taking special classes on animal first aid and she drove miles to pick up dogs that need transport to meet up with truckers. But in the end it really was all just ego. And uncontrolled OCD.

 

But her house was clean and organized. She had stuff clear to the ceiling but it was all in order. Just thinking about those poor animals makes me ill.

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D'Elle, how did we not know that we are both professional organizers? Small world.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

I know.......pretty cool, huh?

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I never gave much thought to hoarders until I brought Cricket home. She came out of a house where a man was evicted, leaving 50 dogs in the care of the local shelter. I think 31 of them made it to rescue, Cricket being one. She came up on a transport in June with 10 or 12 of her relatives, many of whom were adopted but a few of whom are still in foster homes, awaiting adoption.

 

Everyone assumes Cricket suffered in the hoarding household, but I'm not sure that's true. She probably didn't have the best diet... but I think she was relatively happy living with a canine family. She jumped right in my car when I went to pick her up, and obviously understood before she met me that it's more fun to ride in the front seat than the back seat. ;D

 

I have a feeling that the hoarder in this case was an older man for whom things just gradually got out of control. It's very sad. I think of him, and wonder if he thinks about what happened to all his dogs. I would like to send him a letter, letting him know how happy Cricket is, and wishing him well.

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Some of the animal hoarding cases I'm aware of and very peripherally involved with through rescue work have definitely been instances of mental illness. People take the animals in meaning well by them and usually with the intent of adopting them out. But then they don't ever believe that anyone else will give them good homes so they don't get adopted and the hoarder gets in over her or his head both financially and in terms of time to devote to the animals' care and welfare. . . . and of course, it's the animals who loose. The hoarder, too, if we want to consider it from their POV. They start out thinking they're doing the animals a kindness, though in the end that's not how it works out.

 

It's not always easy to tell from a picture of a border collie (and other coated breeds) what its condition really is. Our rescue's taken in dogs from puppy mill confiscations that didn't look all that bad from the pictures. But when people actually laid hands on the dogs they were skin and bones under the fur. The Flatcreek puppy mill shut down about 2 years ago was a case in point. The dogs all lived outside in substandard housing in the second of 2 unusually cold winters even for the Northeast so had thick coats. When people were finally able to get them out of there, most were dangerously malnourished and parasite ridden, so bad to the point it made some of the vets cry. But you couldn't see that from the pictures.

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Guest Jule

It's conditions, rather than amounts. I'm a professional organizer, and I have clients who have beautiful homes, packed with items on display that are well taken care of, and lovely to look at. I've worked with hoarders, as well. The difference is that hoarders keep things with no attention given to them beyond the keeping.

 

Animal hoarders are convinced that they are 'saving' the animals. They are unable to see that filthy conditions, lack of medical care and normal socialization are abusive. It's a part of a pattern of mental illness. Hoarding is often part of a constellation of mental problems - serious depression being one of them.

 

It's very sad for all involved.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

Well said, if these people could truly see themselves as realistically as others do and truly comprehend what they are really doing the problem would be 1/2 beaten. They are delusional and should not be looked upon as cruel heartless people even though cruelty is what the animals are ultimately subjected to. As you say, "very sad for all involved". As a society we of course need to do whatever it takes to protect the innocent animals but also offer compassion to these poor troubled souls.

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Just last week a cat rescue here was raided when a potential adopter called the authorities. The lady ran the rescue out of a small cape cod house and had 50 cats plus a dozen outside Ferals. All had bad infections, open wounds, feces all over and fleas. She had no problem allowing people in to adopt; she thought the place looked fine.

 

Many people stepped up to defend her, saying she was doing what others aren't willing to do. But like any business, you can't take on more than you can handle. I would rather see the cats live outside then be trapped in a house in those conditions. A restaurant wouldn't do well if they booked 100 reservations when they only had tables for 50. It does no one any good to take in more animals than you can afford to care for or have space for. It really is a mental disease as these people truly think the animals are better off in their care than turning away animals. In my area it seems there are always new rescues popping up but they don't seem to ever have any good business sense. Without proper funding, advertising, volunteers and so on, you can't run a rescue properly.

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Good points, waffles and Jules. The 'ripple effect' of hoarding individuals is possibly more heartbreaking.

 

Family members are close to helpless in dealing with the mental illness, the hazardous conditions, and the property damage that is done. When hoarders live in rented property, property owners must go through a long, arduous legal process to get evictions approved and served. Then the property owner is left with the bill for repairing damage done by pets, vermin, and plain old mold and rot.

 

If you happen to share a wall or your ceiling is a hoarder's floor, it can be catastrophic. Pipes burst, sewage overflows, pests and vermin come out of the walls. Then there's the smell. Hoarding can lower property values once discovered.

 

It's like you know a volcano is exploding, but it's a slow exploding type, and trying to protect yourself and your property is a very steep, uphill, and expensive battle.

 

It's a nightmare you almost can't wake up from.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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