How To Deal with an Animal Hoarder

Are you concerned that someone you love is an animal hoarder?

We all know people who are incredibly emotionally invested in their pets. Maybe you have a friend with three cats who would love to add another feline to the family. Or perhaps your parents talk about the family dogs with the same affection they talk about their actual children. However, just because someone has a menagerie of animals doesn’t mean that they have a problem.

Animal hoarding symptoms

There are a few things that you need to look out for to determine if someone is, indeed, an animal hoarder.

 The first thing to look out for is an excessive number of animals being kept in their homes. An animal hoarder typically doesn’t have only three or four pets; they feel drawn to every animal that they could possibly have the chance to adopt. However, it is worth noting that someone who has a lot of animals does not necessarily have a problem. If their house is clean and the animals appear healthy and well taken care of, they probably aren’t a hoarder.

The second thing to look out for is the animals’ welfare. An animal in a hoarding situation is not a healthy animal. Some things that indicate that their pets are poorly taken care of are:

  • Unhealthy looking fur that looks either matted or thin; they may also have “flea dust”, which is a dusting of flea feces within their fur.
  • Appearing emaciated: animal hoarders rarely have the means to feed their animals properly, leading to a lack of nutrition.
  • A lack of energy: the animal may seem lethargic and unexcited to see their owner if they are living in a poor living situation. Many animals who have been adopted after being rescued from hoarding situations are traumatized by their experience.

To finally determine whether your loved one is indeed an animal hoarder, you will need to visit their home. Hoarders often feel a sense of shame surrounding their home and they may be hesitant to allow you inside. If they have a problem, it will be obvious when you step into their home. Animal hoarders cannot handle the number of animals they own, and it drastically affects the home. In the best-case scenario, the home will smell strong and appear dirty and run-down. However, animal hoarding houses are often filled with feces. There may be deceased animals inside. The denial that hoarders experience often leads to them living in run-down conditions due to being overwhelmed with their situation.

How to help an animal hoarder

Having someone close to you in a hoarding situation can be extremely upsetting. However, you must remember to be gentle with these individuals. While their pets are being mistreated, it is not due to any ill will on the hoarder’s part. Often, animal hoarders have experienced a difficult upbringing and feel that they connect better with animals than they do with people. They are in denial about the treatment of their animals because they truly believe that their animals wouldn’t survive without them.

Hoarders often need the help and support of their family and friends in order to overcome their hoarding. When you’re speaking to them, it is important that you let them know:

  • That you value them, support them, and believe that they can overcome this addiction to hoarding animals;
  • The consequences that will happen if their behaviour continues (for example, having their animals forcibly removed or being evicted from their home); and
  • The resources that they can access to assist them in recovery, including the number of a qualified therapist.

1st Hoarding Cleanup provides compassionate cleanup and care of hoarding situations. If you or your loved one requires assistance in an animal hoarding situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (855) 465-2597.