Most people enjoy the company of animals. Whether you prefer dogs, cats, birds, fish, exotic animals, or all of the above, you probably have a long-standing love of some of the many domesticated animals that become pets. And while you may have what your friends or family view as “too many” pets, there really is no fine line between being a responsible pet parent and hoarding animals. The distinction is usually quite clear and there are several methods to deduce when people have become involved in the hoarding of pets. Most states have clearly defined legal limits for the number of pets that can be owned (unless certain licenses are issued). But if you think there is a hoarding situation occurring that authorities may not be aware of, here are just a few of the telltale signs that someone has been mistreating animals rather than giving them the loving and caring home they deserve.
1. Isolation. Hoarders of any stripe tend to become less and less interested in both leaving their house and having others over to visit. It is now generally understood that hoarding is a psychological disorder that can become dangerous if left untreated, and many times, it is brought on by some sort of trauma or loss. For this reason, and due to the fact that many hoarders are ashamed of their inability to control their behavior, they often tend to become isolated from friends and family, seeing this separation as further excuse to carry on their behavior as a means of filling the hole.
2. Expenses beyond the means of the owner. Most pets come with an attendant price tag for care. Between food, shots, regular vet visits, toys, and washing, owning a pet can quickly become expensive. One of the sure signs that hoarding is underway is when a person who already has more pets than they can afford continues to bring new ones home.
3. Time requirements beyond the means of the owner. In addition to monetary expenditures, animals also require a time commitment from their owner. They need to receive regular food and water, be ferried to the veterinarian for check-ups, and they should be petted, walked, or played with daily, as well as bathed frequently (depending on the animal). When a pet owner lacks the necessary time to care for their animals in this way, it is definitely neglect and possibly hoarding (if their lack of time is due to the presence of so many pets).
4. State of the home. Pet hoarders are often unable to stay on top of the mess that is generated by multiple animals. This often leaves the home and/or yard in a state of constant disarray and even unsanitary conditions that are clearly evident, sometimes even from afar, and obviously on closer inspection.
5. State of the animals. Hoarders always end up with more animals than they can really care for, despite their best intentions. Animals that have been found in hoarding situations are often dirty (sometimes from simple neglect, sometime from their own filth), undernourished, and even injured or ailing (in need of basic medical treatments). This state of affairs is a sure sign of a hoarding situation and calls for immediate action by authorities.