The majority of us are knowledgeable about the city’s ‘cat lady’ – often an older woman who lives alone and is found to possess dozens of cats. The more extreme instances appear in the paper, or on the evening news. Sometimes a neighbor complains to officials about the stench emanating from the girl’s home, or filthy feeding bowls and garbage accumulating on the lawn.
Animal hoarding is only 1 kind of hoarding, or ‘collecting’. In the human services area, some houses are called ‘garbage houses’. If you have never had occasion to enter such a house, it would be difficult for you to imagine the enormity of this squalor available. Sometimes the hoarding of animals and of useless objects and garbage (for example 20 years of mildewed papers piled to the ceiling) go hand-in-hand.
Often why someone loses control of their surroundings so completely can be heard, traced back to a gloomy catastrophe – a husband’s death, unemployment, a protracted illness. The individual simply loses the capacity to cope.
Gary Patronek, Director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University, says that animal hoarding is ‘similar to the pathological hoarding of objects…The animals become fundamental to the hoarder’s core identity.’ Some psychologists have related hoarding to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. If you want to know more about Hidden Illness Of Animals visit http://www.kmuch.com/.
A definite profile of a typical animal hoarder has been developed:
· 76% are girls
· 85 percent are middle-aged, and 46 percent over age 60
· 50% live alone
· In 80 percent of those cases, animals are found dead, or severely failed.
· Homes are often in filthy, life-threatening illness. Plumbing may be non-functional, heat and electricity turned off or disconnected.
Hoarding is a real medical condition, a psychiatric disorder. More than 2,000 cases of animal hoarding are reported in the USA annually – the actual number of cases could be much higher.
As we all know, domesticated animals can not treat themselves. Living animals need water even more than food. And house pets need attention and love, even if living primarily in a fenced-in backyard.
The lesson here is, it isn’t so much the number of creatures you keep, but if you can properly care for them – with time, attention, food, and veterinary care.