Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Animal Hoarders

I'm not known for my ability to suffer fools gladly. In fact, I tend to suffer fools rather noisily and with a rather ill temper. I have little tolerance for people with mental conditions that are constantly used as excuses for their behavior. I, frankly, don't give a damn about your tragic childhood and how it has caused you to do whatever heinous act you've been indulging in. Particularly if it involves an animal or a small child.

I've been involved with animal welfare issues actively and formally for about five years. I work with humane societies and municipal shelters as a laiason between rescue organizations and the more formal sheltering professions. I try to help people keep their pets in their family...especially if the pet is a cocker spaniel. I also try to steer the public toward reputable rescues and shelters. I've had my share of bad experiences with both sides of the fence. I do what I can, time and finances permitting.

On the rescue side, the most common problem encountered is hoarders masquerading as rescue organizations. Honestly, people in rescue can tend to be a bit batty. You have to wade your way through a gang of crazy sometimes to find the people who are really just there to help the animals without some sort of agenda.

Animal hoarding is a world-wide problem. Some rescuers are clearly hoarders...but manage to take care of their animals and control their collections. But others fall into the dangerous side of collecting where they keep animals without adopting them out, fail to vet their animals and let animals die from neglect. I actually started my referral to combat such a rescue operating in my area. If you adopt an animal from a rescue, always ask for a veterinary reference. They are going to ask you for one so don't be shy about asking for one in return. Do not adopt from a rescue who does not keep a good and current relationship with a veterinarian.

Last week this story appeared. Animal control officers seized 488 cats from 82 year old Ruth Knueven's house. All of them were either dead or dying and all but 8 had to be destroyed. What makes this even more tragic is that 120 cats were taken from her in 2001. There is no cure for animal hoarding. Like sex offenders, hoarders do not seem to be able to stop this behavior. The judge in this case found the stones to declare Ms. Knueven "unfit to own pets".

Tougher laws are needed to deal with this problem which is more widespread in the rescue community than in other segments of the nation.

For more information on this devastating form of animal neglect:

The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium at Tufts

1 Comment:

  1. Galadriel said...
    I've got a theory that all serious rescuers are teetering on the edge of hoarding. It's a jaw-clenching, tooth-grinding struggle to stay on the right side of rescuing vs. hoarding, and sometimes they lose. One of our dogs came from one of those...she used to be a good rescuer, then one day she lost it and started bringing them all home.

    It's nigh impossible to keep saying no, and a rescuer absolutely must, or s/he'll be overwhelmed. I really do think it's a constant fight.

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