Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Animal Planet's Confession: Animal Hoarding

Let me start by saying I am not a fan of most reality shows, but recently found myself caught up in this one. 

Surfing around the channels, I stopped on Animal Planet's Confession: Animal Hoarding. I thought to myself~How bad could they be? 

Unfortunately, from my viewpoint, it was like a train wreck. I could not help watching. I suppose that's how all reality shows get people hooked. But watching this one, I was interested in the psychological aspects of how the people got into such dire situations with their animal addiction. 

I felt bad for both the animals and the people. I was relieved that the people were handled compassionately, at least that's how it came across. One of the stories made complete sense to me. A woman worked at an animal shelter. Every time a dog came in, and she felt it wasn't going to find a home, she ended up taking it home with her. I can see that happening. It was a point.

Some people don't have an off switch, some people do. I am fortunate to have an off switch. I have two dogs. Sure, I'd love to give a home to more dogs, or even more cats, currently have only one sickly, asthmatic cat, but I know it wouldn't be right for us to bring more animals in at this time. Both our dogs were abandoned, as were most of the dogs from our past, and we gave them a home. We've had many dogs over the years, usually no more than two at a time. Probably the only animals we've had, who weren't abandoned, are the two horses. 

Anyway, the people who ended up hoarding started out with good intentions toward the animals. At least that's how I see it.They did their best to care for them, although you would think they could realize as the numbers increase and they're feeling stressed, something isn't right, but they feel they are needed. Needed to the point of turning their backs on family, friends, and the reality of what is happening. The off switch quits working.

No one should judge them. I appreciated that the show ended on a positive note with the people getting help for their animal hoarding issues and the animals going to a better place than where they were living.

I suppose sometimes it's hard to talk to these people. Friends and family often say they tried or the other side of the coin, they had no idea how bad it had gotten.The hoarders believe they are saving lives and see others as interfering.The man with over 100 chickens was an example. He was very concerned the roosters would be killed once they left him and he didn't want to take that chance. Some of us might say, "Chickens, they're just chickens!" but to him they were individuals and they filled a need he had for acceptance. We often do the things we do because we get gratification from it. Sometimes, that gratification drives us to addictions, when we have no off switch life can turn ugly.

I hadn't realized how widespread the problem of animal hoarding had become, according to the statistics presented. I suppose it's been a problem shoved aside in the past. Neighbors or family members may have known of someone, but possibly had no idea how to help, so they ignored the situation. 

One lady asked her son to help her clean the house. I can't even imagine the looked horrid. She had cats. Over 80 if I'm remembering correctly. The woman lost her restaurant job because of the odor that stayed with her, in her clothing, constantly. Her husband couldn't stand to live in the house anymore. Disgusting, yes, but also, sad. 

My hope is that this reality show helps those people AND brings to light the importance of spaying and neutering cats and dogs. There are so many free clinics these days where even people who can't afford it can get their pets neutered. I do have trouble understanding reasoning behind not getting pets neutered. It's good all around for the pets and their owners. Lack of neutering is often one of the key issues in these hoarding situations. The people acquire the animals without thoughts of neutering, and then they multiply. I think sometimes the people are so overwhelmed, yet so guilty of what they'd done yet were afraid to admit they'd lost control. From what I've seen of all the people in these episodes, they seemed to genuinely love their animals. Most of the time they had favorites, which in most cases they were eventually permitted to keep once they'd gone through a kind of cleansing.

My husband and sons have often joked that they could easily see me becoming the "cat lady" of the holler, but I've never had more than 4 cats at one time and all of them were neutered. These episodes give new meaning to the title "Crazy Cat Lady."  It's not a joke when it goes too far. 

Our dogs are neutered. Every dog we've ever had over the years was neutered, even when we were in lean times.The horses are gelded, but they came that way. Anyway, if you get a chance to peek in at this TV show I  recommend it. It's done very well, with compassion, which I find admirable. While you watch and feel disgusted by what you see, you can also realize that the people who take up animals to the extreme, also seem to have love in their hearts. They have that on their side.


Rising Rainbow said...

I have a neighbor I suspect is a hoarder. I know his wife used to tell me he didn't even throw out a piece of junk mail. The man breeds horses and I suspect he is a hoarder in that regard too. Last I heard there were over 70 on his place. While they're being feed like they should be, they are in stalls. Most never get outside or have even seen the outside of their stalls. No way to raise horses.

Linda said...

I feel sorry for animal hoarders, too, but I do have a turn-off switch. I adopted two sister kitties from a hoarding case here in town. The woman worked at a shelter and brought them home, like your example, until she had 80. The sad thing was many of them had to be put down and the ones I adopted were horribly sick. It was sad. But I agree with you, you need to look at the intentions of the person involved.