Animal hoarding impacts the quality of life and health of the animals themselves. Animal hoarding also affects the health of the person doing the hoarding. There are some specific health problems impacting humans who hoard animals. These include:
- Air quality issues
- Biohazard exposure
- Mildew, mold and other fungi
- Pest infestation
- Broken bones
- Illness from bites, scratches, and cuts
Air Quality Issues
In most cases of animal hoarding, the animals being kept are typically maintained inside a hoarder’s residents. This can result in profoundly negative air quality issues. The air within a residence in which animals are being hoarded can deteriorate to the point that the hoarder’s health can be put at significant risk.
For example, if a person hoard cats, the premises can quickly become inundated with ammonia in the air. (Cat urine contains a high level of ammonia.) Ongoing exposure to ammonia can ultimately result in significant health problems.
An animal hoarder faces the prospect of exposure to biohazards. These come in the form of:
- Animal feces
- Animal urine
- Animal blood
- Decomposing animal remains
The shocking reality is that as animal hoarding progresses, the animals themselves may die in the residence. Their decomposing remains oftentimes are not removed by the hoarder. Consequently, the premises can become broadly contaminated by biohazards that can contain dangerous pathogens capable of causing serious illness and disease.
Mildew, Mold and Other Fungi
Animal hoarding can result in the growth of mildew, mold, and other fungi in a residence. Typically, mildew, mold, and other fungi can end up growing out of control. These growths can further jeopardize the health of the hoarder him or her self. For example, potentially serious health consequences of longer-term exposure to mold in an animal hoarding situation can include:
- Inflammatory ailments
- Toxic responses to mold spores
- Respiratory symptoms of different types
- Allergic alveolitis
- Chronic rhinosinusitis
- Fungal sinusitis
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Production of mycotoxins
Animal hoarding presents yet another health risk to hoarders in the form of a pest infestation. Animal hoarding can result in a residence becoming infested with different types of pests. These can include:
- Other insects
As an aside, rodents may end up occupying a portion of the premises when the hoarding of animals like dogs is occurring. As the property decays, other animals will take advantage of the situation and “move in.” Even in situations involving cats, it is possible that rodents may take up “residence” in a hoarder’s home as well. Not all cats are mousers. Moreover, rodents might take up residence in locations in a property not readily accessible to a cat – including the interior of walls.
The introduction of these pests into a residence in which animal hoarding already is occurring can result in the increased risk of different types of illnesses. The addition of certain pests can further jeopardize the health risks to the hoarder.
This may sound like something of a cliché, but another of the health issues faced by an animal hoarder is broken bones. In one situation after another, animal hoarders are found to have tripped over an animal in their home. Of course, this can happen to a person with only one, however, the odds of tripping over an animal is significantly magnified the more animals that there are in a house at any given moment in time.
Tripping over an animal being hoarded can result in a person falling. The net effect of such a fall can be a broken bone or bones.
A notable percentage of animal hoarders are older individuals. These are people more prone to breaking their bones if they trip and fall. Broken hips are a common and even sometimes fatal example.
It is also important to note that a person who hoards animals and breaks a bone or bones as a result of tripping over an animal is highly likely to avoid seeking medical assistance. The failure to see appropriate medical care after breaking a bone or bones can have dire consequences.
Illness From Bites and Scratches
Another example of how a person’s health is affected if that individual hoards animals is found in illnesses that can arise as the result of animal bites and scratches. One of the most commonplace illnesses that results from animal bites or scratches is infection. Animals can carry bacteria in their mouths as well as on their claws and paws. If an animal’s teeth or claws break the skin of an animal hoarder, that individual can end up suffering from what in some cases can be a serious or more severe infection.
Another reality in the lives of a hoarder is that such a person is not apt to seek out medical assistance in a situation in which they become ill as a result of an infection that originated with an animal they have been hoarding. The bottom line is that they do not want to take any risk of being exposed to animal hoarding.
As a consequence, a person who ends up infected by an animal he or she has been hoarding may end up having an infection that becomes progressively worse as the result of no medical care. Indeed, there are situations in which a person becomes fatally ill as the result of an infection caused by a bite or scratch from an animal that an individual had been hoarding.
Assisting a person involved in animal hoarding can be highly challenging. An animal hoarder is likely to strongly resist any attempt by anyone sincerely interested in providing assistance. Indeed, even identifying the signs of animal hoarding can challenging in some cases.