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The concept of animal rights has gained a lot of concern in recent years, with several groups emerging to fight for the welfare of animals. These efforts are not aimed at attaining equality between human beings and animals, but ensuring that animals are reared in healthy conditions that do not undermine their survival. While this has been stepped, it is doubtless that concerned individuals and groups have had to confront inhumane practices and traditions, which demean animal rights in an array of ways.
One of these practices is animal hoarding, a behavior that continues to draw mixed reactions from all walks of life. It undermines animals kept like pets in numerous ways and is highly discouraged (Tremayne 12).
This research paper explores the concept of animal hoarding by synthesizing several issues that revolve around this topic of study. In laying the foundation of the research, background information and introduction will be covered to gain clarity of ideas. Additionally, this synthesis will explore causes of this practice and focusing on ways through which such “push” factors could be controlled to tame the impact of these inhumane actions to animals.
Moreover, the research will expound the implication of animal hoarding, with an aim of understating some of the negative effects of the practice to animals and to the community. In its concluding segments, the research will discuss approaches that have been adopted or proposed in combating this behavior together with the use of legal mechanisms to promote the welfare of animals around the world. To achieve this task, required information will be sourced from academic library databases to guarantee the authenticity of information.
Like many other issues, animal affects the community and it encompasses discrepancies from all walks of life. Whilst little or no attention is given to animal hoarding in some parts of the world, this practice has far-reaching effects, which may include but not limited to public health concern, animal rights and the mental health of individuals.
According to Patronek (1999), animal hoarding can be defined based on a particular criterion that captures three core issues that give way for the discussion of the topic. The first idea is that hoarders usually keep a large number of animals beyond the recommended size. Additionally, these animals are denied basic needs and conditions to promote their healthy living.
For instance, they are exposed to malnutrition, poor sanitation, inaccessible veterinary care, poor sanitation and negligence leading to starvation and death. The last point that characterizes this definition is consistent denial among animal hoarders, of their inability to provide required animal care. In most cases, these people lay blames on the animals, human occupants around or the households (Patronek 82).
It is however important to note that the issue of animal hoarding has received minimal scientific research coverage, making it a less recognized syndrome in the society. Nevertheless, there is sporadic animal hoarding in most parts of the United States. In a 1999 research, Patronek notes that the issue of animal hoarding goes beyond mere ownership of pets and other animals, and it is not determined by the number of animals being kept by an individual (Patronek 82).
Collecting and rearing of animals only becomes a point of concern when the person in-charge of the animals cannot sufficiently provide necessary care for the animals. The practice is commonly associated with hoarders holding hundreds of animals, which may include both dead and living, shut in cages, trailers, houses, apartments and cars. Additionally, sanitary conditions in these places significantly deteriorate to the level of being condemned for human habitation (Harvard Women’s Health Watch 4).
Due to a combination of factors like contagious diseases, large numbers of animals involved and ill health, euthanasia is usually the only option, thus terminating the lives of several animals prematurely (Gary 1). It is worth noting that at this point when the situation has deteriorated, veterinary cost, clean-up, litigation or even demolition of housing premises could be quite expensive.
In general, animal hoarding has countless effects ranging from transmission of zoonotic diseases to endangering the health of vulnerable members of the society like children and the elderly. Nonetheless, cases involving this issue are handled with laxity by government agencies. This is mainly attributed to the fact that the cases fall within several jurisdictions or in loopholes existing between the state and local government departments (Arluke et al. 125).
Reasons for hoarding
Why would someone confine several animals under inhumane and unhealthy conditions? Although there is little scientific research that expounds this issue, there are known reasons, which compel people to engage in this practice. The prevalence of this practice is usually high among people with mental disorders like OCD-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Many OCD patients possess a sense of responsibility that entails the prevention of harm through ritualistic approaches (Arluke et al. 129). In the same way, animal hoarders get overwhelmed by the responsibility of protecting animals from harm by unreasonably confining them under unbearable conditions. Hoarding of possessions is a common feature among animal hoarders, who seem determined not to lose the animals regardless of existing unhealthy conditions (Tremayne 12).
Accordingly, some experts explain animal hoarding in relation to the analogy of drug, shopping or gambling addiction, while in some cases, this practice is viewed as a by-product of another compulsion, say, shopping. In most instances, animal hoarders portray certain characteristics that resemble substance abusers.
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Such people are preoccupied with actions and intentions that are repetitive, of negligence and denial. On the other hand, focal delusional disorder may cause animal hoarders to believe that there is no suffering among animals kept in large numbers without the recommended care. This explains why most people who engage in this practice deny rearing animals under inhumane conditions and believe that their release would expose them to extreme harm (Arluke et al. 130).
According to the attachment model, animal hoarding is common among people who experience emptiness that cannot be satisfied through normal human relationships. In most cases, hoarding occurs frequently among individuals who have lost a close person through death, separation or divorce (Papazian et al. 115). It can therefore be argued that some people find solace in rearing animals to avoid loneliness, yet they do not appreciate the fact that animals require clean and healthy living conditions like human beings.
Effects of animal hoarding
Hoarding of animals affects both human beings and animals. Of importance is the fact that animal hoarding affects the health of animals and exposes them to diseases that eventually cause death (Castrodale et al. 14). It is therefore considered to be an inhumane and cruel way of keeping animals. Common health issues, which concern activists, include negligence, overcrowding and malnutrition.
Malnutrition emanates from insufficient food and water supply to hoarded animals. The commonest effect of malnutrition is death, which occurs as a result of starvation and dehydration. Furthermore, malnutrition predisposes some illnesses, since hoarded animals are characterized by weak immune systems to fight infections. In acute cases, animals may become aggressive and hostile in order to compete for limited food and water (Harvard Women’s Health Watch 4).
Due to such competition, cannibalism may be witnessed, where animals kill each other for food. Overcrowding is also a major concern of animal hoarding. Hoarded animals are always enclosed in small rooms, which may have carcasses. This may promote the spread of contagious diseases augmented by close proximity of animals as there is minimal living space (Papazian et al. 115).
On the other hand, animal negligence is rampant among animal hoarders. As a result, hoarders deny the exposure of animals to unhealthy living conditions. Negligence is also manifested in limited veterinary services, unavailable waste management programs and absence of standard care (Patronek 86).
Animal hoarding also threatens the life of people living within that neighborhood. For instance, households within close proximity experience stench from decomposing carcasses and unmanaged animal waste. They are also prone to contracting diseases as these animals act as carriers. As a result, areas bordering animal hoarding activities are always condemned by authorities for human habitation (Gary 1).
Recommendation and conclusion
From the above survey, it is doubtless that animal hoarding is cruel and unhealthy. This is the main reason why this topic of research was chosen. Consequently, there is every need for stakeholders and the general public to be involved in saving the lives of animals from hoarders (Castrodale et al. 15).
This can be achieved through several approaches, including treatment of individuals and using legal channels in promoting the rights of animals. Treatment can be achieved through a combination of both cognitive-behavioral and psychological methods. Strict legislation should also be enacted to guard against animal cruelty. Through fines and charges, most people who adhere to these rules and ensure that all animals reared are treated with dignity.
Arluke et al. “Health Implications of Animal Hoarding.” Health & Social Work 27. 2 (2002):125-131. Print.
Castrodale et al. “General Public Health Considerations for Responding to Animal Hoarding Cases.” Journal Of Environmental Health 7. 27 (2010): 14-18. Print.
Gary, Strauss. “Hoarding behavior takes on a four-legged twist.” USA Today (2010): 1. Print.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch. “When keeping stuff gets out of hand.” Harvard Women’s Health Watch 19.3 (2011): 4-6. Print.
Papazian et al. “Press Reports of Animal Hoarding.” Society & Animals 10. 2 (2002): 113-135. Print.
Patronek, Gary. “Hoarding of Animals: An Under-Recognized Public Health Problem in a Difficult-to- Study Population.” Public Health Reports 114 (1999): 81-87. Print.
Tremayne, Jessica. “Can you identify animal hoarders?” DVM: The Newsmagazine of Veterinary Medicine 36. 2 (2005):12-13. Print.