Animal Hoarders Fail to Provide Care
 By Winniefield Park   •   7th Apr 2016   •   2,248 views   •   2 comments

Imagine moving to a new home in deep winter. You’re excited because there’s plenty of space, a barn and paddocks already waiting for your horse and other critters. But, then spring breaks, and as the snow melts, it reveals a horrible scene almost too gruesome to look at. This is what happened to a couple not far from where I live. The gruesome spectacle they discovered included the dead bodies of not just a few, but possibly hundreds of animals. Goats, chickens, dogs and other animals lay uncovered on the ground. In one small pen, they find the skeleton of a horse, the skull thrown back as a testimony to the horrific circumstances of its last days.

Of course, authorities have been called in hopes that the previous tenants of the property are called to justice. But, this is just one of many such cases, where hoarders, somehow blind to the suffering of their animals, have escaped notice and spent years immersed in their sick and damaging habits. Hoarders more commonly focus on smaller companion animals like cats and dogs. These animals can produce numerous offspring, may be easier to obtain and more can live in urban areas. But cases of large animal hoarding aren’t that uncommon, and in the countryside, animals may be less noticeable. Horses or other livestock can live and die on ‘the back forty’ and no one is the wiser.

There are certainly many of us that have a large number of animals. You might have several dogs snoring around your feet right now. Out in the pastures are a dozen horses, maybe some cows and goats. Several cats might be perched here and there, or prowling the barn aisle. In a box stall a few rabbits might be nibbling on some alfalfa hay. So what is the difference between someone who loves animals and shares their home with quite a number and someone who is classified as a hoarder? Well, it’s not just the number of animals you keep, but how you look after them, and yourself.

In addition to owning a large number of animals, animal hoarders fail to provide the necessary care that animals need. And typically, they live in squalor, unable to see the unhealthy conditions both they and the animals live in. It wasn’t that long ago that hoarders were simply accused of animal cruelty when they failed to provide adequate food, shelter and health care for their animals. Of course, there are those that acquire animals with the intent of making money. But, over the last decade, hoarding has come to be recognized as an indication of a mental health problem.

There are several mental health issues that may be at play. The common stereotype is “crazy cat lady”. But hoarders may not be just eccentric. Dementia, anxiety, depression, problems trusting or bonding with other humans, problems with reasoning, obsessive compulsive disorders, or traumatic life events can trigger hoarding. And for whatever reason, they often believe they have a special relationship with their animals, and feel very responsible for them, despite that many may be sick and dying in their care. It wasn’t that long ago that hoarders were accused of animal cruelty and punished according to the law. But, the chances of a hoarder being charged again and again are very good, because the root cause, the mental health issue isn’t addressed.

Hoarders may even pose as rescuers and there have been many horse rescues that are actually hoarding situations. Real rescues operate like businesses, adhere to standards of care and are federally accredited which means they can be reviewed by the government to ensure that any donated monies aren’t inappropriately used. Hoarders may be happy to take your donations, but will not be able to make good decisions about how to spend it, will collect more horses than they find homes for, and the animals in their care may be in the same or worse condition than when they were ‘rescued’.

There are statistics that suggest that about 5% of the population shows hoarding tendencies of some type. A portion of these will hoard animals. If you are concerned about what appears to be a hoarding situation, a phone call to your local police department and or local animal welfare agency or by-law enforcement officer is the first step. The ASPCA also suggests contacting the local health department or mental health agencies. Vigilante type ‘raids’ on hoarders are inappropriate. Rather, hoarders need reassurance and support, whether that be volunteering your time to help them personally, or raising awareness of animals that need adoption. That way, both humans and animals can be helped, and a cycle of abuse may be stopped.

Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
I am counting on God  
Just want to say the HSUS is not a great organization. Check out They go in and "help" pull animals out and then said animals are given to usually already overwhelmed humane societies and dog wardens. The HSUS isn't the blanket organization for humane societies. They don't even operate one and less then 1% of the millions they get in donations actually goes to shelter animals.

However as far as the article goes it was very well written:)
  Apr 9, 2016  •  2,416 views
Winniefield Park  
Thanks, it seems like so many 'humane societies' are over reaching their bounds. Interesting how they evolve and are perceived.
  Apr 12, 2016  •  2,386 views
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