Hoarding

Animal hoarders typically accumulate a large number of animals for which they are unable to provide even a minimal standard of care. They fail to acknowledge the deteriorating conditions [see photo 12, and 3] of the animals and the environment, and the negative impact on the health and welfare of the animals, the hoarder, and other members of the household. Veterinarians may enable hoarders, and knowingly or unknowingly indulge hoarding behaviour. Veterinarians should be aware of the warning signs of hoarding and that hoarders may be clients, staff members, colleagues. If you have any suspicions that clients, colleagues, or staff may be hoarding animals, pay them a visit at home to check the animals’ environment.

Warning signs for veterinarians include:

  • There is a constantly changing parade of pets.
  • You rarely see this client’s animals for diseases of old age.
  • The animals’ problems are related to poor preventive health. See Neglect
  • The owner seeks heroic and futile care for newly acquired animals, and may travel long distances and visit multiple veterinarians.
  • The owner may bath or perfume animals prior to a visit to conceal their odour.
  • The owner may claim to have found the animal in deplorable condition, when in fact the animal may live in deplorable conditions.
  • The owner is always willing (eager) to take in more animals.

For more information on recognizing hoarding and intervening, please see www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/hoarding/. The site provides information and resources for veterinarians, therapists, regulatory agencies and friends or family members of hoarders.