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Animal hoarding is psychological condition sometimes associated with a mental illness recognized as a variant of obsessive-compulsive disorder, rather than deliberate cruelty towards animals. Hoarding involves keeping higher than usual numbers of animals as pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them, while at the same time denying this inability. Hoarders are deeply attached to their pets and find it extremely difficult to let the pets go, since they cannot comprehend that they're harming their pets by not providing the right environment and hygine. Hoarders tend to believe that they provide the right amount of care for their pets. The ASPCA provides a "Hoarding Prevention Team", which works with hoarders to help them attain a manageable and healthy number of pets [1].

Characteristics of a hoarder Edit

An animal hoarder must be distinguished from an animal fancier (who merely keeps an unusually large number of pets, but has the ability to care for all of them) or an animal breeder (who would have a large number of pets due to the business). The distinguishing feature is that a hoarder "fails to provide the animals with adequate food, water, sanitation, and veterinary care, and … is in denial about this inability to provide adequate care." [2]

Along with other compulsive hoarding behaviours, it is linked in the DSM-IV to obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder [3] . Alternatively, animal hoarding could be related to addiction, zoophilia, dementia, or even focal delusion. [2]

Dangers of hoarding animals Edit

The presence of so many animals is dangerous both for the animals and the hoarders. At the very least, because hoarders, by definition, fail to clean up after the animals, urine and feces accumulate. The feces is a vector for a number of diseases. Ammonia from the urine rises to unhealthy concentrations in the air. OSHA set the permissible exposure limit for ammonia at 50 parts per million; 300 is life-threatening. [4] In one case, the ammonia concentration of the air in one hoarder's house, after being ventilated, was still 152 ppm. [2]

Animal hoarding is also a serious animal welfare issue, affecting up to 250,000 animals—mostly dogs and cats—in communities throughout the United States. [1] Hoarders keep abnormally large numbers of animals for which they may not provide even the most basic care. The sometimes hundreds of dogs or cats kept by 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. In 80 percent of the cases studied, authorities found either dead or severely ill animals in hoarders' homes. [5]

Animal hoarding is also a public health threat, as hoarding creates highly unsanitary conditions on the properties of hoarders.



See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC) (2004). Commonly asked questions about hoarding.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Berry, Colin, M.S., Gary Patronek, V.M.D., Ph.D., and Randall Lockwood, Ph.D.. Long-Term Outcomes in Animal Hoarding Cases.
  3. Mental health issues and animal hoarding.
  4. Documentation for Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH): NIOSH Chemical Listing and Documentation of Revised IDLH Values (as of 3/1/95).
  5. Colin, Chris. Loving animals to death.

External linksEdit

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