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Nov 09

The Truth About Hoarders by Alison Hector ©

The Truth About Hoarders

Recently there have been a rash of shows and discussions about animal hoarders. You would think they are legion with one on every corner. According to ASPCA, Peta and HSUS they are on the rise and the embodiment of many rescues. Even though they are quite fascinating, nothing could be further from the truth.

The ASPCA and their ilk want you to believe that there is a hoarding epidemic so they can continue to disparage rescue groups because they are doing the kill shelters job for them and creating life saving that tarnishes kill shelters. For those that didn’t know – the ASPCA, HSUS and Peta benefit financially by and through kill shelters.

HSUS has found hoarding to be such a problem they funded a Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium for years. Although I have searched the entire site as well as their 60 page manual, there is nothing substantive in terms of any statistics, there are none listed. I did find out that they blame hoarding primarily on no kill shelters which is probably one of the main objectives of the site.

Elsewhere on their page they do mention there are 1700 cases of hoarding on pet-abuse.com but no correlation to hoarders. HSUS also makes money from heart wrenching drama ridden busts of alleged hoarders. Some of those alleged hoarders are now successfully suing them for fraud and illegal removal of pets after it was found that HSUS did not have legal cause or warrant to do so. (More on one of the HSUS culprits Scotlund Haisley here)

http://www.kdlt.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4937&Itemid=57

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=11121142

HSUS is also known for dropping off the pets it “saves” to kill shelters and Peta likes to use the hoarding card as another excuse to kill every pet they can.

According to well known animal enthusiast, Steve Dale and the ASPCA there is a fine line between hoarders and rescuers, with rescues comprising a quarter of the estimated 6,000 new hoarding cases reported in the U.S. each year. I have seen the number of hoarding cases range reported as anywhere from 700 – 2000 per year from HSUS financed researcher Dr. Gary Patronek’s 1999 study of 54 cases, and up to this largest number according to the ASPCA. Where does the ASPCA get their unsubstantiated statistics? No telling but one can check www.pet-abuse.com and discover that in the last year they compiled statistics 2010, there were only 146 hoarding cases across the country not 700 and not 6000 cases, with no reference made as to how many were involving rescue groups.

Not only is there a huge thick berm separating the hoarders and rescuers but they aren’t anymore related than a pedophile and a day care center. Hoarding is a mental illness and has nothing to do with legitimate rescues. Hoarding affects anywhere from 700000 to 3 million people per year according to various experts, and that would be all hoarding not specifically animal, affecting less than 1% of the US population. Animal hoarding has been reported to affect only 40% or less of overall hoarders.

Dr. Randy Lockwood, ASPCA’s senior vice president of forensic sciences and anticruelty projects made the unscientifically proven observation that 20 years ago, fewer than five percent of hoarding cases include rescues and shelters. This prompted people like Steve Dale to ask “So what’s happened in 20 years?”

The real answer is that television has created these hoarding shows that bring in millions of dollars in advertising and fascinate millions of viewers, but proves nothing nor purports to be about legitimate rescues. In fact the shows always make it a point to state that hoarding is a mental illness affecting a tiny portion of the population.

I suspect this ad may be the real motivator to increase a false hysteria over hoarding, where the ASPCA is asking you to donate to become a “guardian” to help end hoarding. How one can do that just by making a payment is unclear. Note nothing on the ad refers to rescues groups at all?

We are told that “Being kept by a hoarder is a slow kind of death for an animal” and this time Dr. Lockwood states that there are perhaps 250000 animals affected by hoarding each year. NO citations to any credible statistics but a few very prominent places on the ad to donate NOW immediately. And he also lets us know that “Animal hoarding has become one of the most pressing problems we face today in animal welfare.” I guess Dr. Lockwood didn’t get the memo that the most pressing problem is the needless killing of cats and dogs to the tune of 3 million or more when we know how to end shelter deaths, and it’s being done at over 79 open admission shelters in the country. www.nokillnews.com

The reality is the growth in the amount of rescues, in addition to more spay and neuter has brought the death rate down in shelters from 20 million per year to 3- 4 million per year in the past 20 years. Rescue groups are responsible for the overwhelming majority of all life saving in today’s kill shelters.

Don’t believe this new twist on the old tired refrain that shelters have to kill animals due to the irresponsible public who are now also cloaking themselves are as irresponsible rescuers aka hoarders.

The truth about hoarders is that animal hoarders are mentally ill and a few do pose as rescuers, but they are a tiny portion of the rescue population. What has significantly grown is the save rate of pets in shelters due to the vast increase in legitimate rescue organizations.

By Alison Hector, Esq.

© 2011

14 comments

  1. Lisa B

    I will add that rescuers who overextend themselves are NOT hoarders–they are just compassionate people who take on a little more than they can handle. Also, most rescuers aren’t business people, lawyers or accountants, so sometimes managing the practical realities of running a rescue gets beyond them and they struggle. This does not make them hoarders.

    1. admin

      Good point Lisa. Especially since the scams don’t usually have very many animals to take care of and get many donations. Hoarding is actually a form on OCD and is not formed from nor related to the animals as a genesis.

    2. lesley turnbull

      I am in agreement with the feelings behind this article even though not sure about the accuracy of statistics or claims. I am also tired of anyone who has more than the typical county allotment of 4 or 5 cats or dogs being referred to as a hoarder, myself included. The intent is always to save the animals from the immediate threat of euthenasia by county run control centers, The mere word shelter seems to imply safety in itself but we all know this to be a lie. It is easy to take in more cats or dogs than can be immediately adopted out or fostered elsewhere but at least these animals are given shelter, food and water. Sometimes caged for health or social reasons, even that is usually temporary before they are allowed to roam freely within their confines or home or other accomadations. It is so typical for the truth to be turned around for either financial or political reasons. We must learn to judge on an individual basis. Look what Breed bias has done to the Bully dogs due to our inability to judge individually. Please realize that persons trying to do their very best to save abused, homeless and unloved animals is a far cry from a hoarder even though their enthusiasm clouds their judgement when it comes to turning any cats or dogs away though it may be the prudent choice when it comes to practicality. This is especially hard for an outsider to realize, and even more so for those unfortunate people who do not have the benefit of sharing their life with that special loving four footed companion. They many never get it. Animal lovers are in themselves a breed apart, let’s hope for more understanding all the way around.

      1. admin

        I used the only statistics available. I have companion piece in the works that examines those statistics in more details.

  2. defenseofanimals

    I’m so glad that I am not the only person left in this country who has not been brainwashed by the ASPCA, PeTA and the Humane Society of the US. I totally agree with everything you said. I hate the term “animal hoarder.” It is an unfair, derogatory and prejudicial term created by animal “rights” advocates to support their agenda of totally eliminating all no kill shelters and rescues. These groups have managed to brainwash a large segment of the population through various articles, that disgusting tv show “Animal Hoarders,”, and staged raids, well covered by the news media who generally only present statements carefully prepared by the animal rights wackos and not the other side of the story. It also appears to me that certain sheriffs and district attorneys jump on the bandwagon to endorse the raids and prosecute the poor rescuers to further their OWN political agendas through what they see as favorable publicity. If you will notice, most if not all of these raids take place in the early morning before the shelter workers and volunteers have a chance to do their morning cleaning and feeding. If there are sick animals being treated by the facility in an attempt to save their lives, then these animals will be showcased as if the shelter workers were abusing or neglecting them. If a half starved animal recently came into the shelter, they’ll be sure to take pictures of that to prove animals are being severely neglected. All of this is carefully planned and carried out. It is unfair, unjust and the public needs to be made aware of what is going on.

  3. S A Kelly

    The very scary part of all of this, to me, is that these hordes of uninformed, brainwashed followers of pUeta, H$U$, etc., often label anyone who has more than TWO dogs a ‘hoarder,’ and if even ONE of those is intact, they’re automatically a ‘puppy mill.’ These sheeple spend amazing amounts of time online commenting on every article they can find, start and join hundreds of Facebook pages, and in general do their best to spew their nonsense and hatred in every area they can. They then attract more brainless acolytes who take up the chant, and -in the majority of printed/e-printed articles and materials I’ve read, anyway- end up appearing to be a majority.

    Unfortunately, those of us who actually support multiple animals have jobs and responsibilities, and don’t have the copious amount of time these morons apparently have to successfully combat these attacks. And when we do attempt to promote our views, the H$U$ sends in their paid minions to screech to all and sundry that we’re obviously animal abusers, only out to make a buck ‘off the backs of the poor animals.’

    As far as I can see, it’s the H$U$ and its ilk that are making more money ‘off the backs of the poor animals’ than anyone!

  4. anne marie

    Thank you for this article! As the former director of a rescue that got overwhelmed and then raided no most rescues are not hoarders. yes there are some but not to the amount this groups want you to think. If these groups would HELP small rescuers that get overwhelmed instead of vilify them, steal their animals, destroy the lives of the small rescuer and even get them convicted animals would fair much better! But no H$U$ and their buds would rather keep all the money to themselves instead of do what the world thinks they do HELP ANIMALS

  5. Carol Tutzauer

    I couldn’t agree more. In fact, we are in the midst of a revolution within the animal welfare movement, pitting those who would continue to kill companion animals (traditional sheltering) and those who would save them (No Kill advocates & rescue groups). The traditional shelters, with support from HSUS/AHA/ASPCA/etc, are doing everything they can to discredit the work done by rescue groups. Most of these “SPCAs” have unbridled power with absolutely no checks or accountability. They can decide which animals live, which die. They can decide who can and cannot take them from their shelters. They can withhold information and hide their records. They can retaliate against outspoken volunteers and rescue group by banning them or even killing the animals they would like to save, out of pure spite. What a coup if they can simply give media the pre-raid hot tip of an impending raid for “hoarding,” sweep in and seize the animals, then control the message in the TV news because THEY have a full-time PR person or can otherwise “vamp” in front of the cameras.

    All that is needed is one brave investigative journalist who will peel back that onion and take a serious look at THEIR practices. If journalists would do that, perhaps the traditional shelters would be afraid. And they should be afraid, very afraid: No more hiding behind unwarranted “authority” nor getting a pass as the so-called “experts.”

  6. Buddy Penick

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who can see through the crap H$U$, PETA & A$PCA does to make more donator$ feel as if they have to donate more to stop “hoarding.” It’s all a dog & pony $how to rake in the buck$ & has nothing to do with real hoarding.

    God bless those who help more animals than most would, and they deserve respect for their convictions, not labeled the wrong term of “hoarder.” Shame on HSUS, PETA & ASPCA for using them for their greed.

  7. Debbie Richmond

    Nathan Winograd’s work and his articles are awesome:

    http://nathanwinograd.com

  8. Laurella Desborough

    And in some cases, we see the ASPCA or local humane society confiscating birds and animals when they have no legal authority to do so! That has been the situation in some confiscation cases in Florida. These entities come in and take birds and animals and in a couple days, they are selling them! These people will threaten the animal owners to force them to give up animals. These illegal activities are often ignored because the animal owner does not have the money to file a lawsuit. This is about control and making money, not about the best interests of the animals! That is why the ASPCA and HSUS and those types like to use the word “hoarder” because it tarnishes the animal owner or keeper and makes it “okay” for officials to take their animals. I am glad to see this website and to read these comments. It gives me hope that more people are learning the truth.

  9. Samantha

    I have been defamed by my local animal control as a hoarder posing as a rescue. This has greatly harmed my fundraising to save my animals that were illegally taken from me. People tend to believe whatever story is in the media even when it isn’t true. My problem was at the time I had a flooded basement, my cats were not a problem, the cops staked out my house for hours and made them become the problem. I was raided because I filed a tort claim against animal control, to sue him for an illegal seizure and murder of my animals in 2010. Here is my story and unfortunately I am not alone in these raids happening to innocent rescues. http://www.causes.com/causes/657277-help-bring-the-lee-s-pets-home

  10. Allison S

    If you will note in the United Kingdom they do not have many of these cases of animal collecting. This campaign initially started with ALDF and PETA and then HSUS. Researchers have been paid by HSUS directly to them for social “research regarding hoarding”. There has been a push to label the animal collectors with OCD but it has also been linked to simple depression, and in one mention was the fact that they want to help homeless animals as being told to do so by those late night commercials. Please also that hoarding does not have to be 100 dogs. Several show breeders have had their dogs confiscated and called hoarders. Using this terminology and prosectuing is a way of shaming, something the animal rights community has tuned to fine art. We do however know there is not magic pill to take, and the cause is still unknown. So are we prosecuting people with a mental illness and putting their name and picture on an animal abuse list? There needs to be more research done, preferably by scientist, not the animal rights movement.
    The original HARC ceased in 2006, after the death of Ed Messner. It is now maintained by Gary Patronek, a veterinarian and epidemiologist who is not a psychologist. He is also president of the Animal Rescue League in Boston that had total assets of $110,014,165 in 2008. According to the 2008 IRS 990, he made about $160,000 for one year’s work with that non-profit.

    Dr. Patronek developed the Tufts Animal Care and Condition (TACC) scales which are used by ACOs, cruelty investigators and vets to assess the condition of an allegedly neglected dog. This information was first printed in the HARC Manual, Recognizing and Reporting Animal Abuse: A Veterinarian’s Guide, published by the American Humane Association. Such evaluations are often submitted in court cases. (The pdf and information about the scales was found on the HSUS Animal Sheltering magazine website)

    The Edith Goode Residuary Trust and Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust donated thousands of dollars to HARC before 2006. Tufts University received 2 donations from the HSUS in 2006 – for $20,000 and $29,000. The $29,000 donation was specifically made directly to Gary Patronek at the Tufts University Department of Veterinary Medicine. The department received $31,500 from HSUS in 2007.

    Interestingly, it is the Elinor Patterson Baker Foundation EIN 06-6276403; Greenwich, CT) that donates thousands of dollars to HSUS. HSUS received $750,000 from this foundation in 2008 alone. This foundation is managed by the Cummings & Lockwood law firm which has offices throughout Connecticut and Florida.

    The old HARC has morphed into the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy (TCAPP) which is incorporated into the curriculum of the Tufts Cummings Veterinarian college. As noted above, Patronek is the Director. By the way, along with its vast amount of animal hoarding “research”, the Tufts.edu website just happens to contain state bond laws for animal forfeiture. We have to ask is this creating more of a problem or solving the problem of good animal care.

    http://givinuthefacts.blogspot.com/2010/03/hoarding-is-just-more-animal-rights.html

    Since much of Dr. Patronek’s funding was funded by an animal rights social movement, the Humane Society of the United States and since Dr. Patronek is not a psychologist, would it not behoove the interest of the people who are being made criminals, who may have to many animals care for properly, use sound scientific science on these shows by qualified people on what is collecting animals and what it is not? These people should not be persecuted but used to help understand what drives people to have more animals than they can care for. Childhood trauma, personality disorder, simple lonliness. Are we at the point that we persecute people to save animals forcing them from their homes and into the court system. We need to look deeply into what the animal rights activist are trying to do and look further into what causes people to go beyond the point of being able to care for their animals. There needs to be a caution as this has sent a flurry into people reporting other people when they see 5 dogs or someone with 6 cats, many cat feeders have been turned in for feeding cats, a caution in all of this this is not considered hoarding and has nothing to do with numbers but how well the animals are cared for. This results in people’s pets being removed with no cause, never charged with any crime and pets are gone. This is a dangerous slope for all multiple animal owners.

    The original HARC ceased in 2006, after the death of Ed Messner. It is now maintained by Gary Patronek, a veterinarian and epidemiologist who is not a psychologist. He is also president of the Animal Rescue League in Boston that had total assets of $110,014,165 in 2008. According to the 2008 IRS 990, he made about $160,000 for one year’s work with that non-profit.

    Dr. Patronek developed the Tufts Animal Care and Condition (TACC) scales which are used by ACOs, cruelty investigators and vets to assess the condition of an allegedly neglected dog. This information was first printed in the manual, Recognizing and Reporting Animal Abuse: A Veterinarian’s Guide, published by the American Humane Association. Such evaluations are often submitted in court cases. (The pdf and information about the scales was found on the HSUS Animal Sheltering magazine website)

    The Edith Goode Residuary Trust and Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust donated thousands of dollars to HARC before 2006. Tufts University received 2 donations from the HSUS in 2006 – for $20,000 and $29,000. The $29,000 donation was specifically made to Gary Patronek at the Tufts University Department of Veterinary Medicine. The department received $31,500 from HSUS in 2007.

    Interestingly, it is the Elinor Patterson Baker Foundation EIN 06-6276403; Greenwich, CT) that donates thousands of dollars to HSUS. HSUS received $750,000 from this foundation in 2008 alone. This foundation is managed by the Cummings & Lockwood law firm which has offices throughout Connecticut and Florida.

    The old HARC has morphed into the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy (TCAPP) which is incorporated into the curriculum of the Tufts Cummings Veterinarian college. As noted above, Patronek is the Director. By the way, along with its vast amount of animal hoarding “research”, the Tufts.edu website just happens to contain state bond laws for animal forfeiture.

    http://givinuthefacts.blogspot.com/2010/03/hoarding-is-just-more-animal-rights.html

    Since much of Dr. Patronek’s funding was funded by a vegan animal rights social movement, the Humane Society of the United States and since Dr. Patronek is not a psychologist to my knowledge, would it not behoove the interest of the people who are being made criminals who may have to many animals care for properly, use sound scientific science on these shows by qualified people on what is collecting animals and what it is not? Childhood trauma, personality disorder, simple lonliness. Are we at the point that we persecute people to save animals forcing them from their homes and into the court system many of these animals are killed when removed. We need to look deeply into what the animal rights activist are trying to do and look further into what causes people to go beyond the point of being able to care for their animals. There needs to be a caution as this has sent a flurry into people reporting other people when they see 5 dogs or someone with 6 cats, a caution this is not considered hoarding and has nothing to do with numbers. This results in people’s pets being removed with no cause, never charged with any crime and pets are gone. This is a dangerous slope for all multiple animal owners. It also seems to be a way to remove animals from owners and again why do we not see this in other countries on the same scale? When you count the number of true animal collection,
    put that number over 3,billion people and figure the percent this occurs. It has been blown way out of proportion to further a social movement.

    1. admin

      Interesting link however question some of the facts you have stated like Ed Sayres is on the board of Best Friends.

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