An emerging story of Dorothy Harland, founding member of the Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) based near Ripon, North Yorkshire, shows an animal lover who took to hoarding pets in her own home. Three dogs and four cats were found, after police and the RSPCA services had entered Ms Harland’s home.
Service staff had to enter the premises with gas masks in order to free the pets. A Saluki named Jack had been caged, with no indication of any food or water. Bruno, a German Shepard, had been found in such bad state he had to be euthanized. All other pets have since been rehomed.
The courts found Ms Harland guilty of animal neglect and disqualified her from keeping pets for 10 years.
Last week a television show on Channel 5, called The Woman With 40 Cats… And Other Pet Hoarders, showed pet owners whose obsession in keeping pets had gone to the extreme and with some pet owners was costing one cat collector (Marlene) £200 a week in keeping her 40 cats.
Matt from Sussex reports himself collecting snakes and says: “It’s an addiction. It’s a bit like a drug addiction and getting another fix. I find them fascinating and I love their colours,” he says. “It’s become part of my life and people look at me and call me a wierdo, but to me it feels normal.” Matt says he used to shop at the pet shop every day and has converted a spare bedroom for his pets, with a further extension to the house also busy being planned.
While some cases mean that the pets get kept in good condition, other cases (as represented in our first story) mean a horror
experience for the pets involved. In the USA a reported 250,000 cases of animal hoarders are discovered every year.
A recent study report by researchers at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) showed in their published journal Animal Welfare signs of a psychiatric disorder related to pet hearders. “This is the first step towards public recognition of this disorder, a disorder that constitutes a growing concern for government as it is becoming a serious problem for public health,” Paula Calvo, a researcher of the IMIM research group on anxiety, affective disorders, and schizophrenia, said in a statement.
Family and friends of animal hoarders oftentimes do not know how to intervene and authorities cannot get involved until the situation becomes severe and they have a reason to obtain a warrant to search the home. Hoarders think they are doing something invaluable. A pet hoarder would have good intentions of taking care of a few stray animals that would otherwise not have a home. With a growing number of pets, however, the amount of time, money and care it takes to keep them healthy quickly becomes overwhelming.