Animal cruelty can be described as the three deadly sins against animals. Cruelty is the sin of commission, an overt act of hurting an animal. Neglect is the sin of omission, the lack of providing for the needs of an animal’s well being. And hoarding, perhaps the most misunderstood of the three sins. Hoarding is a deadly combination of the first two sins elaboratively disguised as love when in fact it is hurtful, self-serving avarice.

Despite their professions of love, animal hoarders neglect to provide their animals with needed medical care as well as the minimum basic necessities of adequate food, water, and shelter. Left untreated and uncared for, the animals and their diseases multiply. Blind to the reality of the tremendous suffering they inflict, animal hoarders maintain they are saving animals that no one else would want.

Attached is an article written by Lisa Avery, published in the Valparaiso University Law Review, Summer, 2005 editionMs. Avery’s article addresses the largely misunderstood phenomenon of animal hoarding. It proposes that in order to protect hoarders’ animals and to prevent the inevitable victimization of shelter animals impacted by hoarder rescues, it is necessary to dispel the common perception that hoarders are Good Samaritans whose intentions have gone awry. Her article describes the critical need to educate the agencies and individuals called upon to respond to hoarding cases of the severe animal, human, and economic harm hoarders cause.

The article introduces the phenomenon of animal hoarding and efforts to study its cause and effect. From those studies and recent hoarding cases, Ms. Avery describes the characteristics animal hoarders share and discusses the psychological conditions that may trigger their conduct. She chronicles various efforts to prosecute animal hoarders and explores the possibility of intervention programs to address hoarding cases. She concludes with a recommendation that all the agencies and individuals affected by animal hoarders’ behavior work together to prevent them from hoarding and hurting again.

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The more we understand this obsessive compulsive disorder the better equipped we will be as a community to help both the victimized animals and the hoarders themselves.