Animal Hoarding Project
An Animal Rights Article from


Animal Hoarding Project
August 2013

There's no such thing as "the typical" Animal Hoarder. Hoarders may be male or female, wealthy or poor, old or young. Many hoarders begin with just a couple animals then let their “hobby” spin out of control. Some deny that they are hoarders, claiming to be rescuing animals. But in most cases that we've seen, animal hoarders are individuals who have substituted pets for people in their lives.

While most animal hoarders begin with the best intentions they tend to lack the means or tools necessary to care for the number of pets in their care. Though the kind of pets may vary, from rabbits to reptiles, dogs to cats, birds, ferrets or rats, the one thing all animal hoarders share is that they put relationships with friends, family and loved ones at stake, in order to keep collecting.

Why it's important to act before things get worse….

Tragically, hoarder's pets can suffer from malnutrition, overcrowding, lack of proper veterinary care and be left vulnerable to pests like fleas, infectious disease and stress from overcrowded conditions. Often the person collecting feels that they are the best one to provide care for their pets despite this, as they continue to “save” or rescue more. Typically their own behavior can lead to isolation, as family and friends grow frustrated, and feel unable to help. Their spiral downward continues, affecting them physically, emotionally and financially until much hope is lost.

Here's your opportunity to HELP before that happens.

The Animal Hoarding Project began as a way to reach out to friends, family and loved ones who want to bring about positive change in an animal hoarders' life. Now, as part of the Animal Planet documentary series, Confessions: Animal Hoarding, we are reaching out to people across Canada and the US to give them tools to help a loved one who is struggling with a compulsion to collect pets.

Family and friends can make all the difference. We've found that those close to an animal hoarder, together with a therapist or family mediator, and animal care experts, can make a tremendous impact on a person overwhelmed with too many pets.

While some people choose to find their own solutions to the problem of animal hoarding - re-homing pets or calling in authorities - neglecting underlying emotional issues means the compulsion to collect will continue. The critical element in breaking the cycle of animal hoarding lies in psychological treatment. Without this, the rate of recidivism, or continued collecting, is nearly 100%.

Since animal hoarding is often caused by painful or traumatic relationships with people, hoarders feel that only animals can understand them and give them the emotional security and comfort that they have failed to get from people. They've closed themselves off behind a door guarded by their pets. What we try to do is open that door. Our expert therapists and veterinarians work with friends and family members to help the hoarder confront the pain that underlies their attachments to animals, and begin to build new relationships with the people in their lives who care about them. Where that process begins is with a friend or family member who cares enough to get involved.


  • There are approximately 250,000 reported animals that are victims of animal hoarding every year.
  • Animal hoarding impacts communities across North America on a daily basis with approximately 3,500 reported new cases discovered each year.
  • Animal hoarders have also been known to hoard objects; approximately 40 percent of object hoarders also hoard animals.
  • Without therapy the rate of recidivism (or collecting animals again) is close to 100%.
  • Only 65% of hoarding cases involve cats, and 60% consist of dogs. Animal hoarder have been known to hoard rabbits, birds, reptiles, exotic pets, native wildlife and farm animals.

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