Animal Hoarding & Neglect

 The Numbers Speak

  • Every year 3,500 animal hoarders come to the attention of authorities.
  • At least 250,000 animals are affected each year.
  • Eighty percent of animal hoarders have diseased, dying, or dead animals on the premises.
  • Animal Hoarding differs from Object Hoarding in many ways. Animal Hoarding is associated with squalor to a much higher degree than Object Hoarding. Animal Hoarding has no definitive treatments and Animal Hoarders are more likely to be court-ordered for treatment. Animal Hoarders generally have poorer insight into their hoarding behavior.
For additional information and treatment suggestions:
Animal Hoarding FAQ                                                                                                          
• What is the definition of an animal hoarder?
-  An animal hoarder is defined as a person who has more than the typical amount of animals within their care, who is unable to provide basic care, food, cleanliness and medical care. This person may also lack insight into underlying issues causing the problem and are often in denial that a problem exists. 
How many animals are too much for the standard person?
-Local statutes often limit the volume of animals one person can have; however, it is more often based on the care of the animals and the conditions they are living in. Things to consider in these cases are whether or not a person can feed, water and maintain conditions so as to prevent illness/injury for a larger number of animals. This includes maintaining the health of the animals throughout their lives and when they become sick/injured.
 When should someone call to report an animal hoarding or neglect case?
-Any time a person has concerns regarding the welfare of an animal or the conditions of a home or business in which those animals live, they are encouraged to call the Arizona Humane Society (AHS).
• Who can people call for help?
-People can call AHS’ Emergency Animal Medical Technicians™ (EAMTs) at 602.997.7586 Ext. 2073 for cases within Scottsdale and Phoenix and/or local law enforcement agencies outside of those jurisdictions.
 What types of animals are hoarded?
  - Domestic species are the most common animals to be hoarded, particularly cats as they can be easily
    acquired and well-hidden compared to other types of animals. However, many types of animals can be

  hoarded and can include cats, dogs, rabbits, turtles, exotic animals and wildlife.
• Who can be an animal hoarder and why?
-  Animal Hoarders can be of any socioeconomic background, age or gender. There are three types of animal
1. Overwhelmed Caregiver
-An overwhelmed caregiver is typically slower to acquire animals. As such, they initially provide adequate care, but as issues develop, they are unable to solve for those problems. This person is either isolated or likely has other family or friends that have a hoarding disorder as well.  This person enjoys the role as a caregiver, feeling no one can take better care or love their animals as much they do, and pets are like family members in this type of environment. This individual is more likely to allow intervention as they are also less likely to have issues with authority.
2.  Rescuer Hoarder
-The rescuer hoarder is a person who wants to "save" as many animals as possible and likely does not agree with euthanasia/death of animals which sometimes leads to compulsive acquisition. This person may acquire animals with intent to adopt them out, but as time goes by, they are less likely to allow adoptions based on unrealistic views of who is an acceptable adopter. They also tend to find issues with other areas such as the adopter’s property.  The rescuer hoarder may have a super hero view of themselves as the only person who can save the animals and take the best care of them as opposed to other people/agencies.  This individual is not likely to turn away any animal regardless of the adoptability factor, and searching for the perfect home with the best owner can be lengthy and can lead to deterioration.  The rescuer hoarder may have a network of helpers or enablers to assist with care and they are often like-minded individuals.  The rescuer hoarder is not as likely to live with the animals.
3.   Exploiter Hoarder
- The exploiter hoarder is an individual who takes in animals to serve their own needs and lacks empathy for people or animals and tends to be indifferent to harm caused to them.  This person has a false charm about them to circumvent the concern an authority figure may have and may comply with minimal effort if at all.  An exploiter hoarder can be manipulative and believes they are the expert, having a will to control.  This type of person is more likely to lack remorse for anything they have done. 
*(Individuals that are just beginning to hoard animals may initially be able to sustain the basic needs for the animals in their care, but as time goes by, the care or treatment can deteriorate and lead to worse conditions that require intervention.)*
• Is animal hoarding a crime?
-Hoarding animals is not a crime; however, failing to provide adequate food and water, along with necessary veterinary care is a crime in the state of Arizona.  Due to the increasing volume, decreased care and unsanitary conditions in animal hoarding cases, the animals often sustain illness/injury from the environment which requires medical treatment by a licensed veterinarian. Animals in these cases can have chronic confinement, less socialization with people and other animals, and in turn can mentally deteriorate rapidly.
What are some challenges that come with animal hoarding cases?
Challenges for local agencies include:
-Ability to enter into a property with owner’s legal permission or obtaining a search warrant
-Being able to handle a large volume of animals - transport, housing, medical care, disease
- Legal aspect – prosecution versus a harm reduction based approach where working with the individual’s limitations to offer the most help while mitigating harm can be a more productive approach to the issues at hand