A Florida woman arrived at Miami-Dade Animal Services with twenty cats. A staff-person asked if there were more and the woman said yes, eventually taking workers to her small home where there were over 90, making the total 114. Some of them were in such poor health they had to be euthanized. About sixty were in good enough shape to be housed in the animal facility and are eligible for adoption. Seven are juveniles and fourteen are nursing kittens. The woman was not charged with a crime, because she volunteered the first batch of twenty cats for adoption, and was the one who brought the problem to the attention of authorities. She also admitted there were far more and took authorities to the location and showed them the problem.
Animal hoarding is a peculiar behavior for a number of reasons. Perhaps the strangest aspect of the activity is the hoarder’s strong belief they are saving or rescuing all the animals, even though their health may be very poor; dead animals might be lying around the premises in full sight of the live ones. The United States Humane Society says that almost 250,000 animals are animal hoarding victims each year in America.
As is the case with the very large number of cats being taken all at once to the Miami-Dade facility, animal hoarding typically results in overwhelming animal care centers with a mass influx of animals all at once. These operations are often already burdened during difficult economic times, or at any time.
The living situation for the hoarder also is usually in need of some kind of intervention. Dementia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can be part of the animal hoarding mix. Cognitive behavioral therapy and medication might address the problem, but the Humane Society says nearly 100 percent of animal hoarders return to the behavior. “The HSUS recommends that convicted animal hoarders be sentenced to mandatory psychological evaluation and treatment and that they be restricted to owning a small number of animals; two is a reasonable number.” (Source: Humane Society)
Image Credit: Tim Vickers