Animal hoarding is a little studied and understood disorder. The syndrome appears to be growing and Animal Planet is addressing the issue on their new six part series, Confessions: Animal Hoarding, which premieres Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 9:00 PM. eastern/pacific time.
The humane society estimates 250,000 animals become the victims of hoarding each year. Perpetrators of this crime often see themselves as heroes who save and love unwanted animals. The disorder is a serious mental health problem which negatively affects both the humans and animals involved.
Animal Hoarder Disorder is most often described as having the following criteria:
– Owning more than the typical number of companion animals.
– Inability to provide the basic minimal standards of food, sanitation, veterinary care, and shelter for the animals and neglect often resulting in starvation, sickness and death.
– Denial of the existing conditions. Animal hoarders believe they are providing a rescue service and fiercely love their pets. They deny animal cruelty, death, illness, and deplorable living conditions.
How can Animal Hoarding Syndrome Remain Undetected?
Often, animal hoarding is not reported to authorities until conditions have escalated to criminal animal cruelty. Over 600 animals were found in the home of a Los Angeles woman. The woman insisted the animals were well cared for even though some were dead and some were so sick they had to be euthanized by Animal Services. Dead or sick animals are found in 80% of reported cases of animal hoarding. Often, the only humane treatment for the sick and starved animal survivors of a hoarding situation is to be euthanized.
Part of the problem seems to be positive feedback from the press and community when the hoarder is seen as a saint making personal sacrifices to house large numbers of unwanted animals. By the time people realize something is awry and call the authorities conditions have deteriorated to such a point the house must be condemned as unsuitable for human habitation by the health department. Filthy conditions often result in infestations of rats and bugs. The vermin can spread to neighboring properties.
Confessions: Animal Hoarding
This new Animal Planet program promises to examine the serious and growing problem which often begins with a love of animals and good intentions. The show will examine a surprising range of hoarding situations, entering the homes and lives of a variety of hoarders to better understand this growing problem. “Animal hoarders are not bad people, but they do need help,” says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet.