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Hoarding Help Message Boards : Welcome to the new board! : Animal Hoarder
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Animal Hoarder
   

Dianne
Posted: 20 November 2013 - 10:31 AM
Hi Shannon,

At first I wasn't going to reply. But since you are trying to tackle a very difficult subject I'll try to give you a little insight.

Maybe just my opinion but I think you're going to have a hard time finding people to give you their first hand experience hoarding animals unless they don't do it anymore. At its heart animal hoarding is abuse and no one wants to admit to being an abuser in any way.

The most animals I have had at one time is 10 dogs of varying size and 10 cats. At that point I was working in a professional area with animals and decided I needed to quit my job and devote my time to caring for the animals in my home which was full time work in itself.

I ended up with so many from a combination of working with rescued animals (my group got a literal truckload of Katrina dogs), being asked to take in unadoptable dogs and cats (abused, special needs, behavioral problems), and some trauma I went thru that started my natural hoarding tendencies to accelerate.

The animal people I know are good about sharing an abundance of supplies and my vet gives me 50% off everything but the expense was a factor in keeping the number at 20. Other factors in keeping the number down were my age (I needed to outlive all of them or provide for alternate homes in case of my death), the time involved in caring for their daily needs and very importantly the right mixture of personalities. That takes time (occasionally years for the feral cats who now must stay inside), patience, building trust with each individual so they know their 2 mamas (me and my adult daughter) can protect them if a fight breaks out.

Although I live in a hoarded house there is plenty of space to provide them with clean living areas, clean bedding, fresh quality food and water and plenty of exercise space. Some hoarded areas are shut off completely (or I could easily lose a cat) and some areas are navigated pretty well. Lots of climbing and hidey places for the cats and the dogs can bomb thru other areas without problems. Except for the German Shepherds who knock things over.

Some people would call me a hoarder. I know I have an extreme number of *pets*. I'm not of the mindset that I am the only one who could take care of them. They are my babies and I am committed to their care until death but if I was unable to take care of them I'd rather see them in loving homes than suffering.

I think part of the reason I started taking in so many was opportunity, needing something to nurture and needing to be loved unconditionally. If I had listened only to my heart I would have kept taking in everyone that crossed my path. But in dealing with living creatures I think it's extremely important that a hoarder needs to recognize limitations in the ability to take care of them. Maybe the defining line into destructive hoarding is when the animals cannot be objectively determined to be healthy and living in a relatively stress-free environment. By objective I mean as determined by a vet, techs, boarding personnel, and checks from a humane society.

As part of individual licensing (rather than a fancier's license) I needed to have a home inspection a few years ago. It was extremely stressful for me to have someone in my home but I was very relieved when the lady said healthy, happy animals, no aggression, no undue shyness, history of up-to-date vet, dental and eye care. We had her blessing to take in more.

Even with a stamp of approval I had an awareness that I could very easily slip over the line. My daughter and I made a firm commitment and as our animals have passed away (we now have 9 cats and 7 dogs all seniors or geriatric) there will be no more.

I hope this is a little helpful for your study. I'm not the kind of animal hoarder that appears on the news but I don't think there are many people who start out thinking gee I want to collect animals just to see how many I can squeeze in. Unless they are puppy mills I think most animals hoarders start out with good intentions. They want to *rescue* (and maybe they are projecting their own needs to BE rescued onto the animals) and then as with regular hoarding it builds out of control.

I think it might be harder to admit to being an animal hoarder than a regular hoarder. If you're a regular hoarder you can get away with continuing the hoard before having to face it and make changes. You can work at your own pace and deal with the emotions a little easier. If you admit to being an animal hoarder that has to be dealt with asap for the sake of the animals. That means immediate, definitive action and the hoarder is likely to feel a greater emotional impact because these are his/her babies and there is no time to adjust to the loss. Even anonymously it will be hard to find people willing to admit they are in over their heads.

You picked a tough project. I wish you the best with it. Take good care.
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Shannon
Posted: 20 November 2013 - 12:53 AM
Hi everyone!

I am a current student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. I am taking a Creating Social Impact class this term and had to choose a subject of interest. I chose to focus my topic on Animal Hoarding. If any of you are willing to share your story or anything you have experienced, I will greatly appreciate it. Any research will remain in my class only and not posted anywhere online. The objective is to find a way to bring awareness to this subject and research a way to help those in need. Any thoughts please reply! Anything helps.
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