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Aster's avatar

Have you seen Animal Hoarders and how many pets should we own?

Asked by Aster (18860points) August 29th, 2010

TV has a new show Animal Hoarders. One lady had 45 cats; she couldnt afford to fix them. A man had 35 dogs and had to borrow money from his mother for dog food. Both cried when Animal Control took most of them away. How many pets should we rescue or take in when people ask us to? Is this humanitarian or insane?

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17 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think that most of the people in these situations have good intentions, but don’t realize the harm they are causing. And of course there are also people that are just neglectful and cruel.

I don’t think there should be a specific number as a limit, it depends on how much space you have and your ability to care for the animals. For example, I wouldn’t say that the same number of animals would be acceptable to keep in an apartment as compared to a farm.
While I realise that rescues and shelters are doing the best they can to keep animals safe by carefully screening everyone that will adopt, sometimes I think that people who would be turned down for an adoption give the best homes. Say, someone that lives in the country and has 20 or 30 cats (strays and pets) that hang around outside and inside, whom they feed and provide shelter for. Whether it were a barn or their own bedroom. No one would adopt a cat into that environment, but I think it sure beats those 20 or 30 cats digging around a dumpster behind a McDonald’s, don’t you?
However, trying to make a similar scenario, let’s take someone that lives out in the country and has 20 or 30 cats that they keep in their home. Or worse yet, in cages/crates. Ultimately they can’t keep up with care, from litter box cleaning to feeding and watering – and that is where the real problem comes into play.

So I don’t think a specific number really works here. Sometimes people are able to provide a large number of animals with a better life than they might have otherwise. And sometimes not so much.

I think it’s hard to admit, but we all have to realise that as much as it would be nice to have every stray cat/dog in a forever home with a family to love it and take it to the vet and feed it the highest quality of food would be ideal. But realistically? Not going to happen. In the meanwhile, sometimes people that offer a little bit of kibble or a dry spot in their barn/garage/porch for the animals that would be homeless and dying otherwise.. are doing a service for animal lovers everywhere.

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t think anyone should have any more animals than they have the time money to car for. A lot of animals “taken in” by hoards suffer because they aren’t cared for properly and that is not a humanitarian act. Also, the number of animals you can have in your home is usually limited by local laws.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Oh, I just realised that you were talking about a television show. I have never seen it, so I’m sorry if my answer does not apply.

Aster's avatar

The man with the dogs (who all were white and looked alike) kept most of them in a huge fenced area that had little shelters he had built. Some he’d let into his house. He was obviously very poor and had started doing this when his father died. He is an artist by trade, a good one, but didn’t have money for paint and canvases. He lived out in the country and the barking was incredibly loud. He was somehow found out, they kept having more puppies, so most were taken off in cages. At the end of the show he had lost a lot of weight and was painting again. He said he missed them but his life had improved and he was eating better. Nice guy.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Aster that’s what I mean by many people in these situations start out with good intentions. I’m sure he genuinely cared about the dogs, but when you can’t afford to TAKE care, then caring isn’t enough.

It’s sad, but it’s true.

I think I am probably in the minority in that I think in some cases that people should not have the animals removed. I see so many images (especially online, and also on the news locally since dog fighting is a huge problem here) of terrible animal abuse and cruelty and intentional neglect. And all that I have to do is walk out of my back door to see a hoard of stray cats struggling to survive. It’s devastating. So even though some people are not giving the most amazing home life to these animals, I can’t help but feel sometimes like it is better than the alternative.

When the tables turn though, and that animal has a better chance of survival digging around in the dumpster behind McDonalds… well, that is when I feel they should be taken away.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

I think you should be aloud to have as many pets as you want. As long as they have all the food, water, and space they need. And as long as each individual gets human contact and love everyday, and last but not least all the veterinarian care they need. If you have 50 cats and they have all this I wouldn’t bug you.

Aster's avatar

@daytonamisticrip I have not seen one show where the owner was able to provide medical care . One owner, a girl in her twenties, was trying to do it herself and a lot of the dogs had skin diseases. But in all the shows the animals appeared to be well fed.
One household had so many cats that the owner’s asthma was getting worse and she was using more inhalers. Feces all over the floors that was hosed down from a window was fairly common; the carpet had to be torn up so they’d go outdoors, turn on the hose and spray the floors through the windows.
“Enough space” is relative. They could walk and jump ; there was cat feces near the ceiling on top of the kitchen cabinets.
The owners would run out of feeding bowls and just pour the food onto the floor in various piles.
Whether each of 35–45 animals was receiving adequate love? They didn’t film that. The one common thread I discovered was that the pets were filling a need the owner had developed after a death or divorce.

Frenchfry's avatar

That so funny. I watched for the first time last night. This lady had forty animal. All her money and she even borrowed money to feed and take care of those pet! The other lady had feces and urine all of her floor and to her it was dirt. It was normal.to her. One of her puppies had worms and she could not afford the medicine. One died.I felt so sorry for the pets and her family. I think two dogs or two cats is enough. I am no expert. I have one dog and a lizard. I can’t imagine having 9 dogs.

MissAusten's avatar

The problem with hoarding, from what I understand, is that the people doing it literally don’t see the mess or the health problems. Hoarding, whether it’s stuff or animals, is a disorder.

There may be people who can handle caring adequately for 96 dogs (one woman I saw on the show had that many dogs in her house), but in most cases the animals aren’t given enough space and the living conditions are filthy. It is very unhealthy for both the animals and the people. Anyone who has pets that are not kept in good health with plenty of food and adequate exercise with clean living conditions has too many pets. I don’t care if you have one neglected cat or 47 neglected cats. It’s too many.

When I was a kid, at one time we had about 20 cats. Ten of them were kittens from two cats that my dad put off getting spayed for too long. He eventually found homes for all of the kittens. The cats were mostly indoor/outdoor cats and we had three litter boxes. It was a lot to deal with, feeding them and keeping the litter boxes clean so the cats wouldn’t refuse to use them. My parents were always very good about getting the animals to a vet whenever needed, even if it was the middle of the night. They could afford it. For other people, the amount of pets we had (also dogs and parrots) would be far too much to deal with. I don’t know how one person, on their own, could care for dozens of cats or dogs without sacrificing their health or happiness.

Coloma's avatar

It’s a mental illness. Period.

Whether it’s magazines or cats, same rope, different ends.

These people are lonely, socially inept, isolated, and have emotional problems.

I love animals but would never take on more than I could preperly manage, care for, and I don’t WANT that kind of work and responsability in my life anymore. 2 cats are plenty.

It’s a sad situation but trust me. these folks have issues, they are not just normal good hearted people.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Coloma is right. These are always sad situations. I am not saying that hoarders don’t love their animals, but they are people with a psychological disorder; they are not running animal shelters. The animals they have very often live in filthy, overcrowded conditions and suffer from and suffer because these conditions and suffer from and because of all sorts of diseases. People should also understand that animal hoarders are not necessarily saving some or some number of poor animals from an otherwise terrible fate. They are not just taking in strays who would otherwise be “on the street.” They collect animals, fail to have those animals spayed or neutered, and those animals have offspring. It is not an act of humanitarianism to allow an animal to be born that you are not capable of caring and providing for and in doing so, the hoarder only adds to the sum total of animal suffering everywhere. I’m not necessarily laying blame on them, like I said, I think they really do love their animals, but they have a psychological disorder.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Right, I absolutely recognize and agree that hoarding is an illness, @Coloma and @lillycoyote , you are both right.

I’m just saying that I can think of multiple situations in which people take care of strays, or technically “adopt” a lot of strays… without being hoarders. Mainly in the country, but I’m sure it happens elsewhere. I know people with barns that probably feed 30 cats regularly, and provide them shelter in their barns, sheds, and homes. I don’t consider those people to be hoarders.
Which is why I was saying I don’t think there should be a numerical limit, because it greatly depends on the circumstances. If you are filling your home/yard up with animals that you can’t take care of.. then that is a completely different story.

It’s like I said above. If you are not providing the animals in your care with a better life than they would have out on the streets, then you shouldn’t be allowed to keep them. But I think tacking a literal number onto it would be more harmful in some situations.

Am I alone in this?

lillycoyote's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Not necessarily. In my first answer I said: “I don’t think anyone should have any more animals than they have the time money to car for.” That’s my bottom line, I didn’t set any numerical quota. But that being said, having numerical limits seem valid under certain circumstances, in certain areas and for certain types of neighborhoods and environments. I live in your basic suburban tract housing development, and each of us has a house on our little ¼ acre of suburban paradise :-) and I don’t want to or feel like I should have to live next door to someone who has even 10 or 15 dogs let alone 30 or 50, even if they do have the time and resources to take care of them adequately. That’s not what I signed up for. I think it’s good to have zoning laws that limit the number of animals a person can have but I also certainly think that there should be procedures in place to allow people to apply for exemptions if they are able to show that they can manage a larger number of animals if it benefits or at least does not do harm to the animals and if does not severely diminish the quality of life of their neighbors.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

That’s very reasonable. GA. :)

lillycoyote's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Thanks. I try very hard to be reasonable person.

Assuming that comment was directed at me.

Coloma's avatar

I live in the country and my immediate area is remarkably free of any feral cat populations or hoarding situations.

My friend however that lives in a neighboring county is over run with cats on her river property.
Most live in the neighborhood but it is out of control, she cannot leave any food out for her own cats and she has at least 10–15 cats hanging around constantly. It’s out of control.

mandybookworm's avatar

We have a bylaw that prevents animal Hoarding. No household can own more than three dogs (two small and one large, or two large and one small) or three cats. It doesn’t mean that Cat Hoarding doesn’t happen (it’s mostly cat hoarding in my area anyway) but it is taken care of quickly once it is found out about.

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