Animal Hoarding: True Love or Animal Cruelty?

Have you heard of hoarding?

Compulsive hoarding (or pathological hoarding or disposophobia)[1] is the excessive acquisition of possessions (and failure to use or discard them), even if the items are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary. (src)

I bet the term “pack rat” comes into your mind.

Here’s a question for you: what instead of hoarding stuff, what if you hoard DOGS?

Not just 3-6… we’re talking 30+ dogs. Living in one HOUSE:

Now, this raises, the question… is this love for animals or is this sign of animal cruelty?

According to Wikipedia:

Animal hoarding involves keeping higher than usual numbers of animals as pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them, while at the same time denying this inability. Compulsive hoarding can be characterized as a symptom of mental disorder rather than deliberate cruelty towards animals. Hoarders are deeply attached to their pets and find it extremely difficult to let the pets go. They typically cannot comprehend that they are harming their pets by failing to provide them with proper care. Hoarders tend to believe that they provide the right amount of care for their pets.

Apparently, there are over 2000 cases of animal hoarding a year in US alone.

Why does it happen?

In New York City, the humane society agents found over 20 dogs in a one bedroom apartment. What did they find? See for yourself:



The place was filled with dog manure everywhere, pee (everywhere), chewed/ripped up furniture, etc. And the dogs? Some of them were dehydrated, malnourished, and had clear signs of damage from fighting other dogs.

Of course, when the couple was charged with “animal cruelty”, the defendants came up with a GREAT argument: WHAT constitutes animal cruelty?

They were fed, housed, and taken care of. Sure, not great, but they weren’t dying left and right.

In fact, ASPCA has this problem when trying to prosecute these people (in order to relinquish the animals under their care): (src)

Should Hoarders Be Prosecuted?

In most cases, criminal prosecution of animal hoarding can be a difficult process and may not be the most effective route. Such cases are difficult to successfully prosecute and, once litigation ends, the hoarder is likely to resume collecting an excessive number of animals unless closely monitored. “Hoarders are like drug addicts—you can’t cure them, you can only prevent relapses,” says Lockwood.

Some say prosecution isn’t the answer because hoarders are often emotionally troubled rather than criminally inclined. “Like many psychological conditions, the causes of animal hoarding are probably multiple and, therefore, assessment of emotions, behavior and thoughts must be multifaceted to point the way toward successful treatment,” says the ASPCA’s Dr. LaFarge. In some cases judges can impose conditions that actually help the hoarder. They can require counseling, for instance, or prohibit the person from having animals.

What is clear is that prosecution alone rarely alters the behavior. “It is essential that key community agencies work together to prevent animal hoarders from harming the large number of animals they gain control over,” says LaFarge. “Social service agencies must collaborate with animal shelters and law enforcement to intervene to save the animals and then follow up with years of monitoring to prevent a recurrence. The general public needs to be educated to realize that the hoarder is not just a nice little old lady who ‘loves too much.’”

If you are reading this post, I am assuming that you’re a pet (well, at least, a dog) lover.

Is this true love or animal cruelty? If it’s cruelty, should these people locked up?

Leave your opinion in the comment box below.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Riki

    Yes they were fed, yes they were housed, not sure about being taken care of (medical care, shots, etc.), but the filth is incredible! No human or animal should live in filth like that. If one can care for that many animals, great! But it is obvious by the state of the apartment, even basic cleanliness is non existent. A breeding ground for all types of diseases. This is not providing care for them.

  • Roberta Fehr

    I believe it is like the hoarding of items and it is a sickness. But what is different with animals is that they can die in a house that clearly has a hoarding problem. I don’t doubt at all that the owners love these animals but they need to realize that having too many they are evenutally going to love them to death. No one should have the right to do this to animals in the name of love so this should be punishible to the full extent of the law. We need to put back the meaning of humane back in our humanity as the human beings we are suppose to be. Animals are not just our pets they are part of our existance and always has been. That needs to be respected as we can not live without them and in turn they can not exist without us no matter what type of animal we are talking about.


    people like this are sick in the head i love animals to but please get them fixed than this wont happening to meany dogs in one time and there will not get them there shots there need poor dogs and i hate the grates there always have to be in , i dont know but if you due it wright with the training than there wont pee in the house ,going to walks helps too helllo people wacke up….

  • Sandra George

    These people need to be prosecuted. If they will end up doing it again then the law needs to deal with it quickly!

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