Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hoarding Dogs: Japan, US, Germany, Australia

Currently my English setter rescue Gundog Rescue CACI is collaborating with Alma Tokyo Tierheim to rescue some 70 odd beagle mixes in dire conditions from a hoarding in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo. 
The rescue of dogs from hoarding situations is not restricted to Japan...according to an August 2014 Independent article, this mental health problem is not yet widely documented or studied globally. 
Up to 2,000 new cases are estimated to appear every year in the US. And this is likely to be an underestimate, because...only very severe cases are identified.
I confirmed it's still a burning issue in the US: a June 12th 2017 Fox News article reports on mental health counselling in the case of 170 Yorkshire Terrier mixes rescued from an elderly (male 72; female 62) hoarding couple in San Diego: 
As part of their plea agreement, the defendants won’t face additional custody, but will have to undergo counseling, will not be allowed to own any pets and will transfer title of a 31-foot motorhome to the Humane Society as restitution in the case. 
And it happens in Europe: Statistics from the German Animal Welfare Federation Du und das Tier Magazine February 2017 article labelled Animal Hoarding: Love of animals out of control reports 117 cases over 3 years from 2012 with 9,000 animal victims, which may be the tip of the iceberg.
Alleine vom Jahr 2012 bis September 2015 registrierte der Deutsche Tierschutzbund 117 Animal-Hoarding-Fälle, in denen rund 9.000 Tiere betroffen waren. Die Dunkelziffer liegt weitaus höher.
Both this German article, which reports on a hoarding rescue of 155 dogs (originating from a pack of 20 dogs rescued from laboratory testing in Spain), and an Australian associated press article from January 25th 2017 show that dog hoarding is a recurring problem: 
A NSW woman who kept 43 cats and 31dogs in "the worst hoarder conditions" an RSPCA officer had ever encountered has been sentenced to one month in jail... Hicks had previously been convicted of 83 animal cruelty charges in Queensland in 2008, said the RSPCA. (my italics)
German national daily Welt mentions the relapse-prone repetitive nature of animal hoarding in a 2014 article in its Psychology and Mental Health section.  
A glance at Wikipedia on Animal Hoarding confirms that there seems to be a strong mental health component here, and that offenders are relapsing, as was the case here in Japan with the Edogawa Ward 70 beagle mix hoarding rescue currently in progress.

In other words, to help hoarding humans stop from a mental health perspective, mandatory psychological and therapeutic counselling seems called for. At the same time consistent and persistent long-term follow-up by the authorities seems to be particularly important, even the key, to combat repeat hoarding offences. The above examples mention that owners are loath to let people in to the home, and loath to give up all the animals...potentially creating a repetitive loop in a never-ending cycle of abuse. All animals from a hoarding must be neutered even if the owner wishes to keep one or two. Meanwhile the costs of spaying and rescuing so many dogs is prohibitive: owners should be billed in some way if they are at all financially able.

There's a wonderful article by Jessica Hekman in Bark magazine on how to help the it now, or else I'll talk about it at a later date here in the blog, perhaps in tandem with my new foster Beagle mix when she arrives. 
Mindblowing. It has to stop!

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