Oct 15, 2021
Animal hoarding is a delicate issue that involves three main concerns: mental health, animal welfare, and public safety. Usually, when these situations go public (you see them on the news, you find out your neighbor is an animal hoarder) it’s very easy to focus on animal welfare. And it’s not wrong: animals are just victims of the circumstances and poor decisions.
We can’t, however, diminish the issue that is mental health, as it’s probably the main reason that victims got in that particular situation in the first place. When a person becomes an animal hoarder, they’re usually facing a mental health battle that also needs to be looked upon with care and compassion.
Bio-One of Chula Vista has helped families and victims of hoarding throughout San Diego County and surrounding communities. Tackling these situations requires a dedicated team: caring, compassionate, discreet, and utterly professional. Animal hoarding scenarios are no less challenging. It’s all about keeping a mindset of helping everyone overcome the odds and the difficulties in a timely manner.
What is animal hoarding?
Animal hoarding is very similar to a regular hoarding situation in the sense that people acquire more things than they can handle, creating a hostile, dangerous environment for themselves and the people (animals) around them. Animal hoarding is a little different, though. A person struggling with animal hoarding houses more animals than what they’re able without providing minimum levels of nutrition, sanitation, and shelter.
A person struggling with animal hoarding is usually not aware of how many animals are actually on the property, and they might hoard dogs, cats, birds, etc.
Why do people turn to animal hoarding?
There’s not a factual reason for people to turn to animals in hoarding situations. As of today, hoarding is recognized as a mental health disorder, and this has allowed medical professionals to treat it with the proper therapy to ensure that the victims understand their behavior and follow the right steps to avoid relapsing to that condition.
Some reasons for animal hoarding, based on first-hand experience in these situations include emotional dependency, paranoia, anxiety, depression, and more. Notice that these reasons are basically a struggle with other mental health conditions. People can turn to animal hoarding as a way to cope with traumatic life events like the loss of a loved one, a separation, losing a job, etc.
How to identify animal hoarding situations
Bio-One of Chula Vista can help you
If you think someone you love might be struggling with animal hoarding, Bio-One of Chula Vista specialists can help you. Our technicians are trained to be mindful and caring, and we are prepared to tackle these scenarios in a private, respectful manner for you and your loved ones.
Locally owned, Bio-One of Chula Vista proudly serves the following San Diego County cities: Chula Vista, San Diego, National City, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, El Cajon, Santee, Lakeside, Coronado, La Mesa, Imperial Beach, Bonita, Alpine, and surrounding communities.
We offer free estimates for our services, and we are available 24/7! Give us a call at 619-892-1744.
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.
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:
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:
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?
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...”
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, ASPCA.org lists important steps to ensure the animals are quickly helped and the hoarder receives the support they require.
Animal Hoarding: Far more Common Than You Think
Most people think of piles of trash stacked to the ceiling when they hear about a hoarding situation, but they don’t typically think of animals. Unfortunately, animal hoarding is far more common than most people would ever guess. According to the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium they estimate 3,000 to 5,000 new animal hoarding cases annually across the country. Cats and dogs are the most common animals hoarded, and there can be hundreds of animals in the most extreme cases.
How is Animal Hoarding Defined:
As a result of living in filthy, cramped conditions animals subject to hoarding are far more susceptible to maladies and disease such as worms, mange, ear mites, respiratory infections, distemper, and other diseases. Aside from the physical toll hoarding places on animals their social needs are neglected, and can be just as harmful. Pack animals such as dogs are often kept separated by gender and severely restricted by chains or kept isolated in small cages for years at a time.
Animal hoarding poses a real risk to humans as well. “Hoarding of any sort poses significant health concerns for both occupants and nearby residents”2 Hoarding conditions make the transmission of diseases such as Salmonellosis and Toxoplasmosis from animals to humans far more likely. At Bio-One Chula Vista we do not enter any hoarding situation without full PPE due to the extreme health risk.
As a community, how can we help? What impact can we make?
* Please contact your local animal rescue to make a donation or volunteer your time
* If you see an animal in distress, contact authorities
* Let the animal hoarder know that it is okay to ask for help
* Contact your local social services department
The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, “How Is Animal Hoarding Defined?”
2 Public Health for Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, “Animal Hoarding And Public Health,” The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, accessed 9 March 2019