How Many Pets are Too Many: An Examination of Pet Hoarding

Pets or companion animals truly are like family for many people. Some people have a proverbial “house full” of pets, a situation which begs the question of “how many pets are too many?” In other words, when does the population of pets in a person’s home reach the point that an individual can be considered to be a animal or pet hoarder. There are some basic considerations to bear in mind when it comes to the question of how many pets are too many?

Animal or Pet Hoarding Statistics in the United States

The reality is that it is impossible to ascertain how many animals or pets are hoarded in the United States at any given point in time. The Americal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that over 250,000 animals or pets are victimized by hoarding in the United States annually.

Ordinances Regarding Animals

A starting point for ascertaining whether a person has too many pets is a consideration of local ordinances regarding animals at a residence or other location. For example, a city might have an ordinance that limits a person to having only four cats or dogs at his or her residence. In some instances, if a person has over the legally permissible number of animals at his or her home, that can be indicative of animal or pet hoarding – or at least a warning sign that an individual is heading towards becoming an animal or pet hoarder.

Indicators that a Person has too Many Animals or Pets

In addition to violating existing legal limitations on animals or pets, there are specific indicators that suggest a person has too many animals or pets at his or her residence, that a person is person who is animal or pet hoarding. These include:

  • Person has no idea how many animals or pets he or she has at his or her residence
  • The home is deteriorating
  • Strong smell of ammonia at the residence
  • Floors littered with dried urine, feces, and vomit
  • Animals at the residence are not well socialized
  • Animals appear emaciated as well as lethargic
  • Fleas and vermin are present at the residence
  • The suspected hoarder isolates from others
  • The suspected hoarder neglects his or her self
  • The suspected hoarder insists that the animals are healthy and happy, even though that does not appear to be the case

Reasons Underlying Animal or Pet Hoarding

There exists a myriad of reasons why some individuals turn to hoarding animals or pets. Underlying reasons for animal or pet hoarding includes:

  • Attachment disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Combination of attachment and personality disorders
  • Paranoia
  • Delusional thinking
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Other mental illnesses

ASPCA Criteria to Establish Animal or Pet Hoarding

The ASPCA has established a set of criteria to identify when pet hoarding likely is occurring. These criteria include:

  • An individual has in his or her possession more than the typical number of animals or pets
  • An individual is unable to provide even a minimal standard of care for these animals or pets
  • Specifically, an individual cannot meet the minimum standards of nutrition, sanitation, and shelter for these animals or pets
  • The animals or pets consistently fail to receive appropriate veterinary care
  • An individual denies he or she is unable to properly care for these animals or pets
  • A person fails to recognize the negative impact the situation has on these animals or pets

Types of Animals or Pets that can be Hoarded

Any type of animal or pet can be hoarded. Cats are the most frequently type of animal hoarded. Dogs are in second place. Other animals that end up hoarded include:

  • Rodents
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Goats
  • horses

Can an Animal or Pet Hoarder be Helped?

Animal or pet hoarder can be helped. With that said, aiding a person who is classified as an animal or pet hoarder can be challenging. Professional intervention and assistance is crucial to aiding a person address an animal or pet hoarding issue.

In addition, when a person does have too many animals or pets, the assistance of a trained, experienced professional pet hoarding cleanup specialist will be needed. When a person hoards animals of pets, there is going to be a significant amount of waste, hazardous materials that can cause harm to people who come into contact with it. This is a professional with an experience in what is known as biohazard remediation.