Animal hoarding continues to be a serious problem, despite city and county ordinances, around the country, limiting the number of pets people can have in their homes. 122 cats were removed from a Pennsylvania home recently, in yet another sad hoarding situation. According to an August 14, 2015 article in The Morning Call, the cats and kittens lived in filthy conditions, with fleas, and some suffered from untreated injuries. This is typical for a hoarding situation.
The CEO for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) said that it was admirable the owners wanted to help the cats, but that they were overwhelmed. All the cats went to the PSPCA’s facility for medical treatment and examination.
The ASPCA says that hoarding is a very complex problem, made up of issues like cruelty, mental illness, and public health. Hoarders might suffer from a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or they might suffer from attachment and personality disorders (this is one reason why pet limit laws don’t work). They might suffer from something else, too. Some of these people see themselves as rescuers, while others start doing it after a traumatic loss.
In Pennsylvania, Hollie Ingram, who had those 122 cats in her home, wants to open a sanctuary. According to WNEP 16, she wants to do this because she feels so bad for all the homeless cats out there. For nine years, she’s been taking in these cats. She wasn’t running a sanctuary out of her home, per se, but she did see herself as a rescuer.
Since pet limit laws don’t work to prevent hoarding, what does? Sadly, never allowing hoarders to own animals again is one way of dealing with it, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). They’ve created model legislation that addresses this, which basically boils down to banning people, who are convicted of hoarding even once, from ever having animals again.
The ALDF also says that cost mitigation is necessary, because so often, when these animals are rescued, it’s the taxpayers that bear the burden of vet care and housing until the animals are adopted. If the hoarder suffers from mental illness, though, they may not have the resources to bear even some of those costs, as the ALDF suggests they should.
Ingram still wants to open her own sanctuary, but she says she won’t do it at her home again. Instead, she wants a sanctuary with proper facilities. In the meantime, the 122 cats that the PSPCA took in will be available for adoption at some point soon.