SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Between May and June, one local pet rescue has encountered three different hoarding situations.
“Two were owner-surrendered because they recognized they needed help,” said Lisa Scarbrough Director and Founder of Coastal Pet Rescue (CPR). “We took six animals from the first home, six from the second but they had more they were unwilling to let go.”
Scarborough said the third hoarding incident involved 26 dogs.
“We were contacted by another group to help and we took 16 of those,” she added.
Scarborough said in many cases, an individual or family can provide proper care for multiple animals. But hoarding situations are different.
“They think they are doing the best they can but cannot see the neglect,” the CPR director explained. “Usually, the pets haven’t seen a vet, if ever. Food, urine and feces are around on floors because they don’t spend much time outside. And inbreeding happens because they aren’t getting altered.”
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), the term “animal hoarding” refers to the compulsive need to collect and own animals for the sake of caring for them that results in accidental or unintentional neglect or abuse.
As the ADAA explains, most animal hoarders fall victim to their good intentions and end up emotionally overwhelmed, socially isolated and alienated from family and friends. The problem causes immense suffering for both animals and people.
It also creates a great expense for local animal shelters like Coastal Pet Rescue.
Scarbrough said most of the hoarding situations CPR encounters are with smaller breed dogs as someone with a hoarding disorder can have more of them living in an indoor home space with what they see as comfortably than larger breed dogs. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t hoarding situations with large dogs, but the rescue typically encounters breeds including Chihuahuas (mixes), Shih Tzu’s, Yorkies, etc.
It is difficult to detect animal hoarding unless you’re entering a person’s home. Oftentimes, someone with a hoarding disorder will not have visitors, so the situation can go unchecked for a long period of time.
For those who may suspect a hoarding situation, contact a licensed animal rescue. If the individual is unwilling to accept help, a rescue might place a welfare call into local animal control or humane enforcement like Chatham County Animal Services.
“I often try to coach people to go the private/nonprofit way first, because I’ve seen animals sit tied up in county court cases for months to years, and it delays them getting on the road to their new lives,” said Scarborough. “Many times, these people don’t need jail time and fines, they need resources and help as they will have other issues and challenges.”
If you’re looking to adopt an animal from CPR, click here.