More than once has reported on the accumulation of animals (animal hoarding) also known as “Noah’s ark syndrome”, and dealt with cases of people, such as Glynne Sutcliffe or Teresa and Joanna Steadman, who have taken many, too many animals into their homes without having the means to support them adequately. The phenomenon known as hoarding is, however, more complex than it seems: there are many useful signs to identify it and many are the causes that lead an individual to accumulate animals.
There is a tendency to talk about animal hoarding or accumulation of animals when an individual hosts more than the average number of pets in the house and sometimes is not even aware of the exact number, is not able to provide them with the necessary veterinary care and food to keep them healthy and denies being in difficulty with the management of animals, claiming instead to be taking care of them adequately. Those who practice this behavior are called hoarders or animal accumulators.
The coexistence of these three factors is the basis from which to recognise a case of hoarding, since the mere presence of a good number of animals in itself is a necessary but not sufficient condition; after all, in this way all animal welfare associations would automatically be condemned.
What is important to point out from the outset is that the accumulation of animals is a crime that forms part of animal mistreatment, however well-intentioned it may sometimes be.
There are, then, further signs of a case of hoarding.
- The facility in which the animals are kept is damaged and has, for example, broken windows or malfunctioning fixtures.
- The suspected hoarding of animals is kept on the edge of its community, or even isolated from it. In addition, he presents himself as a neglected person who does not take care of himself and is therefore dirty, poorly dressed or constantly ill.
This is, finally, what anyone might notice inside the house of a hoarder.
- A significant smell of ammonia.
- The presence of dry faeces, urine and vomit on the floor.
- Emaciated and thinned animals, in poor health, which are lethargic, uncomfortable and not very used to socializing.
This means that animals in the hands of an accumulator of animals suffer hunger and thirst, are attacked by parasites, which are known to proliferate in dirt, contract diseases and often share too little space. They are, in a word, the object of maltreatment.
In some cases, also some associations are nothing else than groups of accumulating animals gathered together. Particular caution should be exercised if the association we contacted refuses to take us to the facility where the animals are kept, and the meeting with the chosen dog or cat takes place instead in “solitary” areas such as parking lots or little frequented street corners. Another sign to pay attention to is listlessness in carrying out adoptions, as well as a tendency to be evasive about the number of animals housed and other details regarding the association.