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HOW TO RECOGNIZE AND STOP ANIMAL HOARDING
1. Identification: First identify the problem. A person with a lot of animals is not necessarily a hoarder. If the animals are well kept, well exercised, well fed, and given adequate medical care then hoarding is not an issue. Signs of hoarding include poorly maintained animals kept in filthy conditions. Gaining access to a property to determine its condition, however, can be a big problem if the suspected hoarder does not allow visits to the home - which is usually the case.
2. Intervention: Contacting family or close friends and asking for their cooperation in dealing with the problem may be helpful if done in a sensitive and compassionate manner. A compassionate approach is often the most effective and should always be the first option. Hoarders are often mentally ill, aged, infirm, and/or living on fixed incomes. While some may reject offers of help, others will gratefully accept. The main concern is ensuring that the animals get adequate care.
3. Preparation: Gather facts which will be essential if the authorities are to be contacted. If the hoarder will not permit visits inside the residence, exterior signs may give warning as to interior conditions. Warning signs of unsanitary living conditions may include:
6. Contact Authorities: This may require extreme patience and persistence. Animal control is often hampered by privacy laws and cannot intervene without hard evidence of potential abuse and/or a signed statement from a witness. It may be necessary to contact several agencies such as animal control, local health department, social services, breed rescue group, etc. to create an interactive intervention process.
7. Patience, Persistence, Determination: Never give up. The animals are depending on you. Getting justice for the animals and getting them out of an abuser's control can take weeks, months, or even years but for all the animals who are saved from a hellish existence, the effort is definitely worth it.
8. Preventing the Abuse Cycle: Even if convicted of animal abuse, hoarders are highly likely to begin hoarding again. In most cases the laws fail in not monitoring the activity of a convicted hoarder allowing them to begin the cycle of abuse all over again. The only way to prevent a hoarder from beginning again is through public awareness, education and vigilance. If you suspect that hoarding is occurring in your community don't turn a blind eye. Become a voice for the animals who cannot speak for themselves.
Dombkiewicz, Ray (2005), The Elektra Rescue: A Personal View, STOLA website http://www.stola.org
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