The persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value eloquently describes the condition known as hoarding. Moreover, this condition can escalate into compulsive hoarding, an antisocial behavioural pattern that can have harmful side effects. This includes physical, emotional, social, financial, and even legal problems for both the hoarder and family members.
Hoarding does not confine itself to the accumulation of objects and possessions. Animal hoarding is on the increase, which is a cause for concern because domestic animals cannot speak or fend for themselves.
Animal hoarder definitions form quite clear guidelines:
#Persons accumulating large populations of animals
#Owners failing to provide the minimum in terms of husbandry: Specifically, nutrition, shelter, sanitation and veterinary care
#Owners failing to act on or remedy the deteriorating conditions of the animals or the environment – this, while animals are starving, ill, or dying
#Owners failing to respond and remedy the negative effects that their hoarding is having on their own health and well-being, as well as other members of the household
Shocking Report from South Africa: Police uncover Durban dog hoarder’s house of horrors
Warning: The content from here may offend sensitive readers
Illustrating how matters can spiral out of control, a report from Durban, South Africa in late April indicates the severity level of a recent case of animal hoarding. Please do not read on if you are sensitive to disturbing content.
The warrant was obtained by senior inspector Candice Sadayan because of concerns regarding the welfare of animals on the property, following a report from a member of the public.
General Manager of the Durban and Coast SPCA commented, “What they found was a house of horrors. They were at first hit by an overwhelmingly putrid stench caused by rotting dog corpses, debris, filth, and dog faeces from corner-to-corner.
“They found more than 80 dogs living in a foul and disease-ridden environment, some barely clinging to life and others riddled with parasites, disease and injuries.”
Neighbours said that they felt sorry for the woman but had repeatedly reported her to the SPCA and police over the masses of dogs kept on the property. “It’s very sad, she keeps to herself but the dogs are not in a good state. People always come to drop off meat at her house, she said she had between 50 to 60 dogs, but we know there are more,” an anonymous neighbour said.
Authorities confirmed the final tally of 20 carcasses, while the number of dogs recovered alive totalled 80, many facing euthanasia due to their terrible condition. Investigations now reveal that the owner allegedly took in unwanted and stray animals from the community. This is contrary to South African animal protection legislation.
The SPCA GM goes on to say, “I would like to send out a very clear message to members of the public who are simply handing over animals to people to care for and so-called ‘rescue’”. The animals face a fate much worse than humane euthanasia as this case illustrates so poignantly.
Some of the dogs died a slow, painful death without veterinary intervention. The SPCA has the experience, expertise and skill to take care of animals. The public should put their pets up for adoption if they can no longer afford to keep them.
The SPCA will decide how best to deal with animals handed in, but always in the best interests of the animal. In this case, the SPCA will open a charge to prosecute the woman under the Animals Protection Act, as their mandate dictates this.
The courts will have to decide what role animal hoarding played in this very upsetting incident. Surely, somebody close to the woman at the centre of this truly shameful development could have blown the whistle. Most of us would agree that animal cruelty of this magnitude was definitely avoidable.