ICAWC 2013 - The Human Issues Behind Animal Hoarding - Vicky Halls

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ICAWC 2013 Barcelona, Spain - Vicky Halls' presentation on The Human Issues Behind Animal Hoarding

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ICAWC 2013 - The Human Issues Behind Animal Hoarding - Vicky Halls

  1. 1. THE HUMAN ISSUES BEHIND ANIMAL HOARDING VICKY HALLS RVN Dip Couns MBACP Member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION Hoarding of Animal Research Consortium Lack of data Increase awareness in the welfare sector, veterinary profession and general public Early intervention
  3. 3. CONTENTS Defining ‘Animal Hoarding’ Characteristics of ‘hoarders’ Explanatory models HARC sub-categories Specifics Consequences Interventions Recognising hoarders
  4. 4. ANIMAL HOARDING Definition: “Someone who accumulates a large number of animals; fails to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care; and fails to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals (including disease, starvation and even death) or the environment (severely overcrowded and unsanitary conditions), or the negative impact of the collection on their own health and well-being.” [Patronek (1999)]
  5. 5. FACTS ABOUT ANIMAL HOARDING Almost every type of animal can be a victim of hoarding domestic, farm animals, exotics, dangerous wildlife Cats are very common - easily available, easier to conceal than dogs In most situations, hoarders tend to concentrate on one species
  6. 6. ANIMAL HOARDING To be distinguished from: Compulsive hoarders (inanimate objects) People who live in squalor (Diogenes Syndrome) People who live with large numbers of animals for whom they provide adequate care
  7. 7. CHARACTERISTICS OF ANIMAL HOARDERS Hoarders of inanimate objects also Non-functional utilities (plumbing) Perceive themselves as rescuers
  8. 8. CHARACTERISTICS OF ANIMAL HOARDERS Anthropomorphic Intense love of animals “No-one else cares better”
  9. 9. CHARACTERISTICS OF ANIMAL HOARDERS Childhood: chaotic, inconsistent parenting Belief that they possess special abilities to communicate with animals Recidivists
  10. 10. EXPLANATORY MODELS FOR ANIMAL HOARDING Delusional model Hoarders insist that their animals are well cared for, despite clear and immediate information to the contrary
  11. 11. EXPLANATORY MODELS FOR ANIMAL HOARDING Impulse control model Addiction akin to substance abuse: preoccupation with animals, denial of a problem, excuses for the behaviour, isolation from society, claims of persecution and neglect of personal and environmental conditions
  12. 12. EXPLANATORY MODELS FOR ANIMAL HOARDING Compulsive Disorder The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMV) classifies the hoarding of inanimate objects as ‘hoarding disorder’ under obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (animal hoarding special manifestation)
  13. 13. EXPLANATORY MODELS FOR ANIMAL HOARDING Attachment model The individual may suffer from early developmental deprivation associated with childhood experiences of absent, neglectful or abusive parents and is unable to establish close human relationships in adulthood
  14. 14. SUB-CATEGORIES OF HOARDERS Animal Hoarding: What caseworkers need to know GJ Patronek VMD PhD Overwhelmed caregiver Rescue hoarder Exploiter hoarder
  15. 15. SUB-CATEGORIES OF HOARDERS Animal Hoarding: What caseworkers need to know GJ Patronek VMD PhD Overwhelmed caregiver Some awareness Passive acquisition Triggered by change in circumstances Inability to problem-solve
  16. 16. SUB-CATEGORIES OF HOARDERS Animal Hoarding: What caseworkers need to know GJ Patronek VMD PhD Overwhelmed caregiver Socially isolated Caregiver = self-esteem Fewer issues with authority Animals “family members”
  17. 17. SUB-CATEGORIES OF HOARDERS Animal Hoarding: What caseworkers need to know GJ Patronek VMD PhD Rescue hoarder Mission -> unavoidable compulsion Fear of death More active vs. passive acquisition Only one who can provide care
  18. 18. SUB-CATEGORY OF HOARDERS Animal Hoarding: What caseworkers need to know GJ Patronek VMD PhD Rescue hoarder Extensive network of enablers Doesn’t necessarily live with the animals Rescue -> adoption becomes rescue only
  19. 19. SUB-CATEGORY OF HOARDERS Animal Hoarding: What caseworkers need to know GJ Patronek VMD PhD Exploiter hoarder Tends to have sociopathic tendencies Lacks empathy for people or animals Indifferent to harm caused Rejects outsiders’ concern
  20. 20. SUB-CATEGORIES OF HOARDERS Animal Hoarding: What caseworkers need to know GJ Patronek VMD PhD Exploiter hoarder Superficial charm and charisma Lacks guilt/remorse Manipulative and cunning Adopts controlling role of expert
  21. 21. DEMOGRAPHICS OF ANIMAL HOARDING US Studies: Patronek 1999 76% female (>60yrs = 46%) Most were single, half lived alone 65% hoarded cats 57% cases brought to authorities’ attention by neighbours
  22. 22. DEMOGRAPHICS OF ANIMAL HOARDING % of women owners in complaint calls with >10 cats 2006: 62% 2007: 66% * *More recent data unavailable Source: UK (RSPCA Inspectorate Information Analyst)
  23. 23. DEALING WITH HOARDERS Owner (hoarder) Family, friends, ‘enablers’ Neighbours Other agencies/charities
  24. 24. DEALING WITH HOARDERS Justification Excuses Normalise behaviour
  25. 25. DEALING WITH HOARDERS Empathic (accept working with owner’s ‘reality’) Genuine Non-judgemental Practical Respectful
  26. 26. DEALING WITH HOARDERS Keep records of all conversations, interventions etc.
  27. 27. IMPACT OF ANIMAL HOARDING Huge impact on resources Large number of animals Possible prosecution Recidivism
  28. 28. WHAT CAN BE DONE? Early intervention Offering support and guidance when the need for intervention is acknowledged Overwhelmed caregivers Breeders ‘Rescue’ Pet owners
  29. 29. WHAT CAN BE DONE? Increased knowledge and awareness Veterinary Profession Welfare Sector General public
  30. 30. SIGNS OF ANIMAL HOARDING Evidence of hoarding objects Property in disrepair Strong smells, flies
  31. 31. SIGNS OF ANIMAL HOARDING Owner of property ‘reclusive’ Owner reluctant to let anyone in Feeding strays or feral colony Large number of cats in the vicinity
  32. 32. SIGNS OF ‘OVERWHELMED CAREGIVER’ IN RESCUE CENTRES Poor conditions High numbers for available facilities Reluctance to provide details of: Routine & veterinary care Re-homing numbers/statistics
  33. 33. POSSIBLE FUTURE FOR ANIMAL HOARDING? Vigilance Earlier intervention RSPCA continuing to work alongside Social Services and Environmental Health ASPCA – Cruelty Intervention Advocacy Programme
  34. 34. POSSIBLE FUTURE FOR ANIMAL HOARDING? Psychiatric care and/or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for the hoarder? Further research
  35. 35. “Inside Animal Hoarding” The Case of Barbara Erickson and her 552 dogs
  36. 36. www.vet.tufts.edu/hoarding www.aspcapro.org
  37. 37. THE END Thank you for listening

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