Are You Enabling a Hoarder?

I have been reading a report issued by the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC) that addresses the problem of animal hoarding and suggests a multi-faceted approach to dealing with the problem.

Studies show that people with multiple animals are more likely to become hoarders as they age.
Studies show that people with multiple animals are more likely to become hoarders as they age.

One thing that strikes me is that many hoarders are posing as rescuers. And one of the reasons why these people are able to get away with their actions is the extensive network of enablers they develop.

Many people in the animal welfare community genuinely care about animals and want to help. That makes them easy targets for manipulative people who are using animals to reach their own ends.

If you are wondering how you can avoid enabling a sick individual, and not being a party to an animal’s misery, here are a few things to consider:

  • Don’t assume non-profit status means the operation is legit. In most states, all you need is under $1000 and an attorney can set you up as a 501c3 organization. There is little oversight in this arena… sadly.
  • Be wary of online groups. It’s real easy to set up a fake website. There are cliques on social media sites like Facebook that are questionable. Remember, like attracts like, so don’t assume that because a group of people support the efforts of one, that is a good sign. They may be feeding into each other’s mental illness.
  • Be suspicious of cross-posting. Oh, I know I’ll piss a lot of you off with that one. But cross-posting is one of the most emotion-laden actions taken in the name of animal welfare, and how does someone with a rescue complex get their needs met? By coming to the rescue, of course! Oh, and speaking of cross-posting, be suspicious of anyone that agrees to “pull” an animal, but only if a certain amount of money is first raised. Hey, I know caring for animals costs money. But I am highly suspicious of anyone that will rescue only if you pay for them to do so.
  • If people are always asking for money, or if they have others always asking for money on their behalf, ya gotta ask yourself why. And if that person is bringing more animals into their home, when they can’t afford the ones they currently have, that should be a red flag.

The best rule of thumb is to invest wisely. And the best way to invest in the welfare of animals is by supporting groups that are acting in the best interest of all animals. The Humane Society of the US and the ASPCA are working on many fronts to make the world a better place for ALL animals. Their efforts include education, lobbying for legislation, as well as rescue efforts. Your local Humane Society or animal shelter could use your money and your time to help animals on a local front. If you truly want to make a difference, that’s where I suggest you focus your efforts.

Animal hoarders are not good people who just got over their heads. They are sick, and their actions lead to the misery, and sometimes death, of animals. If you don’t do your homework, you may be helping to prolong that misery.

And after reading this, if you continue to enable a hoarder, shame on you. 

39 thoughts on “Are You Enabling a Hoarder?

  1. Pickles is testament to the sickness of hoarders…..heartbreaking and upsetting circumstances..she is alive purely because I got her within hours of her dying….great post! Fozziemum xx

    1. You are so right, and it is easy to get sucked in. I’ve had trouble with that too> I know many of them start out with good intentions, but then just get in over their heads and they don’t have the funds to take care of the ones they have.

      1. The ones that get over their heads are sad enough, but we have to face facts. Most hoarders are deliberate in what they do, and they use us to be even more cruel to animals than puppy mill breeders.

      2. Exactly…then you go into a house with boarded windows no food no trays no light mid summer and a house full of eyes glowing in the darkness..eyes that have never seen sunlight…makes my blood boil..

  2. An excellent post for highlighting this issue and also brave of you to blog on the subject – as you say it will anger some people. i’m re-tweeting this as I feel more people need to be aware of this as some are a bit ‘green around the gills’ thinking these people are just trying to help the animals, when in fact it doesn’t. Great blog.

  3. Excellent post. Because the hoarders have so many animals, many of them not neutered, they become breeding grounds. While not intentionally being a puppy mill or cat mill, they become that of natural mating.

  4. Very timely post. One of the things I really enjoy about retirement is my time with my cats. I used to have two and now I have four. As you know, to keep an eye on everyone, proper nutrition, keeping the house clean so it doesn’t smell all takes time. I know I am at my limit but I have seen others. I adopted one cat from a rescue group. She was being fostered by a woman who had 10 cats in a large cage in her garage (that’s where Hazel was) plus 10 in her house. That was over her limit. Unfortunately, Hazel was never socialized with people and if she were not with us would not make an adoptable pet. I have another friend who rescued a dog from a puppy mill. Yes, he is gorgeous but he is so neurotic he can’t be left alone and he is already on medication. Back to the old saying, “first do no harm.”

    1. I believe there are things worse than death for an animal, whereas hoarders believe that any kind of life is better than euthanasia. Sadly, many of us feed into that.

  5. One thing that drives me crazy is when people say “But what’s one more?” We know that we’re maxed out on space and time, so it’s really aggravating when someone who has ONE pet they don’t want tries to give it to us. Our 2 dogs and 4 cats get along very well, but one more of either could completely disrupt the house, it’s not that big!

    1. My personal belief is that if you cannot properly care for an animal- or won’t- you should surrender that animal to a shelter, not pawn it of on someone else. I know some people don’t agree, especially if the shelter is no-kill, but in mind, animals should be entrusted to the experts.

      1. Exactly! I always tell people about Buddy Dog or other shelters in the area. I really worry about some of the transport groups that bring dogs up and hand them over to the new owners in parking lots. Doesn’t seem like a good screening process on either end.
        We had inquired with a rescue, but they wanted to show up with the dog without any of us meeting it first. No thanks! We went back to Buddy Dog, where Maggie met a few other dogs before Duke.

    1. It’s one of the dirty little secrets of animal welfare that we don’t talk about enough. If we’d only weed these folks out from our ranks, I think we could do more good in changing the minds of others about animal welfare.

      1. I agree Rumpy. The animals have to bear it and a lot of people who donated their money are disappointed when they hear and see what kind of “shelter” they supported and refuse to donate something again. How sad.

  6. Excellent post Hoarding in my area is a huge problem. Some do it thinking they are doing a good thing. Others do it for sinister reasons.

  7. Your right Rumpy. I get so tired of hearing people saying they took a animal in because they didn’t want to see it die in a kill shelter but then ask for people to help financially with its care. To take a animal in and ask for help to pay to have it spayed/neutered and updated on vaccines or have teeth worked on is one thing but when you see a individual who only want the animal with the highest price on it’s head is a red flag.

  8. I didn’t even realize that hoarders can also become con artists! An eye opening post. I’m afraid that my bed looks a lot like the one you picture! But we are pretty much at the outer limits with four. Just managing the vet visits as they age is quite a task.

  9. I only cross post when I personally know the originating poster. Otherwise, the answer is always NO. I wish I could afford to have more animals, but the cost of veterinary care is formidable around here and getting worse. It’s very worrisome.

  10. Wow! Thanks for posting, Rumpy. There have been a few folks for whom I have had my suspicions. The use of cages for pets is a definite sign. I saw a lady on an animal hording show who thought she was doing a good thing to capture feral cats and keep them in cages in her home. She saw them as homeless and needing her to save them. She had a network of “friends” who thought she was doing good and they would tell her where they spotted ferals– not realizing they were going into “storage” in her home. Authorities cleaned her out of all but a couple of her real pets and social workers came to give her help but she had an addiction. After her home was cleaned and animals removed she continued in her mission with cat traps she had hidden away and binoculars to spot strays, She was very sad.

  11. I’ve watched a few of those hoarding shows and 9 times out of 10 there are cats and dogs (dead) being pulled out of the house as it gets cleaned……it sick..
    ((Husky hugz to u))
    “Love is being owned by a husky”

  12. I would also suggest for those wary of online groups, ask your friends. Word of mouth spreads very quickly online and its known who is and is not legit.

    I would also suggest if you want to help out a group or need help yourself get as much information as possible. Vet numbers, pictures of vet bills, etc. I’m saying this from personal experience as I’m facing close to $1500 for the final vet bills for my girl cat bitty. I provided pictures and vet phone numbers.

    Also a way to contact the person in charge and ask for information, if they delay or ask why then its a red flag.

  13. Wow, this is exceedingly helpful. I don’t think I’ve thought much about it before. But now that you mention it, I can see how some of the people I see in social media might actually be struggling with a mental disorder. Scary.

  14. I have seen news stories where mal-nourished animals have been “rescued” from so-called rescue groups. I’m sure some of these people were well-intention but got in over their heads.

    Cross-posting is a term I have not heard. Can you be more specific about what that means?

    1. Cross-posting is when you use a site like Hootsuite to get your content out there onto numerous social media sites. Animal rescuers do this by posting photos of animals availalbe for adoption in shelters, and others then share the posts (or retweet, etc.). That in and of itself is not so bad, but these cross-posts often include pics of sad creatures that include descriptions that are an emotional overload. It encourages others to take in the animal or to pledge funds to help a rescue take in the animal. Sadly, that is sometimes a front for hoarders.

  15. I just had to like this post because the picture you chose was adorable. It was too cute a picture for such a sombre topic 😦 I had read an article a few years back about a lady who kept over 30 cats in her tiny apartment. Hoarding should definitely be kept to objects rather than living things.

  16. This is a very good advice when we consider to help animals….you’re right….on internet, there are lots of people who tell us they’re helping animals and need some donation….but I really don’t know which one is trustable…..

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