There are many kinds of addiction, and there are different forms addiction can take. While some people are addicted to drugs and alcohol, others are addicted to collecting animals.
Animal hoarding is a growing problem. The stories are so unbelievable that they almost always make the news. Most often, cats are the objects of hoarding, but animals of all different kinds have been found in houses and on properties across the country, being collected by people who are addicted to the act of bringing in more and more.
Becoming a Hoarder
People who hoard animals are not able to stop their behavior, just as a drug addict cannot stop doing drugs. It often starts with the person feeling sorry for unwanted animals and wanting to take them in and give them a home. One by one the animals are brought in and fed, and pretty soon the animals are too numerous to be taken care of properly. The hoarder will continue to bring in more animals, not seeing the danger of it or the problems it is causing. The person will become overwhelmed with all the animals, but will not do anything about it because they believe they are still helping, and because now it is an addiction.
The kind of unrealistic thinking of an animal hoarder is very much like that of a drug addict. Hoarding is a mental illness, and often needs to be treated professionally, just like drug addiction.
The result of animal hoarding is almost always malnourished and diseased animals. Animals kept crowded into a house or yard will be quickly exposed to disease and infection from one another, and pretty soon they can all become sick. A hoarder still somehow overlooks the sickness and even death of some of their animals, and still believes they are helping the animals somehow.
With stories of hoarding being brought to light in some communities, more people are becoming aware of this dark problem. People are always shocked at the horrific conditions these animals are kept in, including piles of feces a few feet deep, animals climbing on each other to find space to sleep, animals with patchy fur, eye infections, and ribs sticking out. For the sake of both the hoarder and the animals they keep, it is important to create awareness for this sad problem.
Getting Help for a Hoarder
An animal hoarder will rarely seek help on their own. Turning themselves in for help means giving up responsibility of their animals, and they know the animals will have to find another home, or most likely, be euthanized. Sometimes it is the person’s family members that turn their loved one in. Other times, it is up to the community to step in and get help for the person. A neighbor or veterinarian will most likely notice signs first and report the problem. It is always important for the local humane society to be contacted, as well as the local authorities.