Inside the Mind of a Hoarder
About 250,000 animals are affected by hoarding each year. Monday's incident where 51 dogs were recovered from a single trailer was described by a responding officer as a hoarding scene.
With obscene conditions inside the trailer and all 51 dogs starving, it brings multiple questions to mind. The biggest one being, "How can somebody let it get to this point?"
Hoarders, in general, have a rough time discarding things for a variety of reasons including the feelings objects will be useful in the future, have sentimental value, or are unique. They typically live in unhealthy and dangerous conditions, usually with broken appliances and a lack of necessary utilities like heat.
Up to 40% of hoarders also hoard animals. Animal hoarders are characterized as having intentions to care for their animals, but end up neglecting them due to their hoarding disorder.
Of all animal hoarders, 88% have diseased, dying or dead animals in their home or on their property.
Erie News Now talked with a mental health specialist, Nicole Moore, from Safe Haven Behavioral Health Services who said hoarding isn't always a mental health issue. Hoarding can sometimes be caused by other underlying issues or life events.
Moore said hoarders don't necessarily recognize the conditions they're creating and living in are appalling and unsafe. She said they can be so distracted by their symptoms that they do not understand they're being cruel to the animals in their care.
Regardless of the cause of hoarding, local animal lovers say this mistreatment and neglect is intolerable. Erie News Now spoke with people supporting a fundraiser for a local animal shelter and most of them said they want to see a harsh punishment for Monday's incident.
With animal cruelty laws being strengthened last year, people charged with animal cruelty and neglect can be charged with a felony, be forced to pay up to a $15,000 fine and could be sentenced to seven years in prison.
The animals from Monday's incident were taken to the A.N.N.A. Shelter for care. Once the animals are released by their veterinarian, they will be available for adoption. In the meantime, the shelter faces tremendous costs in caring for the 51 dogs, which are soon to multiply since 19 are confirmed to be pregnant.
For updates from the shelter, visit their Facebook page.
To learn more about animal hoarding, click here.