Animal Friends Connection along with Maltese Rescue took 21 dogs from a small hoarding case, AFC took 11 and Maltese rescue took 10, several of the dogs were larger dogs and AFC took them. It was terrible that these poor dogs had to live in such horrible filth. That same weekend we are told that there was a case not far from us of 39 hairless dogs, all dogs are rescued. This happens more often that we know.

What is Animal Hoarding?

Animal hoarding is keeping a higher-than-usual number of animals as domestic pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them, while at the same time denying this inability. Compulsive hoarding can be characterized as a symptom of mental disorder rather than deliberate cruelty towards animals. Animal hoarding occurs when an individual is housing more animals than he or she can adequately care for in a humane way. It is a complex issue that encompasses mental health, animal welfare and public safety concerns.

Animal hoarding is defined by an inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care—often resulting in animal starvation, illness and death. In the majority of cases, animal hoarders believe they are helping their animals and deny this inability to provide minimum care. They most often don‛t provide any medical or spaying or neutering resulting in many more animals. Thousands of animals suffer and some die in squalid surroundings, devoid of adequate food and water, yet, the owners insist nothing is wrong. Conditions often become extreme before law enforcement officials can get enough evidence for a search warrant. “The biggest problem is they are not allowed access to the house until it becomes so severe that something tragic happens. Early intervention is the key to preventing the suffering caused by animal hoarding; yet, those who see the neglect in its early stages (close friends, relatives, neighbors) often misunderstand it and fail to report it until conditions become tragic. Taking action early on, while the door is still open is the best thing for the animals and the person. Intervention can come in many forms but must be thoughtful and respectful.

There are several signs that may indicate someone is an animal hoarder: Not all of these signs need be present.

1. They have numerous animals and may not know the total number of animals in their care.
2. Their home is deteriorated (i.e., dirty windows, broken furniture, holes in the wall and floor, extreme clutter).
3. There is a strong smell of ammonia, and floors may be covered with dried feces, urine, vomit, etc.
4. Animals are emaciated, lethargic and not well-socialized.
5. Fleas and vermin are present.
6. The individual is isolated from the community and appears to neglect him- or herself.
7. The individual insists that all of their animals are happy and healthy—even when there are clear signs of distress and illness.

Ask yourself what is too many animals? In some cases having more than a couple of dogs or cats could be to many to financially care for.

1. Are they being fed enough quality dog or cat food? On a daily basis?
2. Do they always have access to fresh water.
3. Do they have adequate shelter? Inside the house or dog houses protecting them from the heat or cold, wet weather.
4. Are they being socialized? Do they receive regular attention from you?
5. Are they provided with regular veterinary medical care such as vaccinations or any other medical care they may need?
6. Are they spayed or neutered?
7. Are they being kept clean and free of fleas/ticks?

If you think someone you know is struggling with animal hoarding, pick up the phone and call your local city animal shelter, mental health personal, police department, non-profit animal shelter, animal welfare group or veterinarian to initiate the process of getting them—and the animals—the help they need