Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hoarding re-visited

There's a very interesting explanation of how animal "hoarding" cases are dealt with in the US just out, which is worth quoting in full:

"If we receive a hoarding case that shows no intent.. that means the individual has mental health difficulties, then we're likely going to go with City Ordinance violation charges," said Director of Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control Belinda Lewis.

Those are mostly fine-based, and can limit that person's future legal animal ownership. Intent to harm, however, is more severe, and means the person wanted to abuse and neglect animals.

"We're going to look at criminal charges. It's not the most common direction because we rarely see intent with animal hoarding cases," Lewis said.

She says animal hoarding cases are usually the result of mental health issues.
Psychiatrist Dr. Jay Fawver explains that can stem from one of three things.

"A recent loss, such as a job loss, or a child moved away. Secondly, if there's a profound grieve from a death in the family," said Dr. Fawver.

The third involves neglect dating back to that person's childhood.

"You're trying to reverse that whole history by giving a lot of love and compassion to animals. They're well meaning when they start out, but the problem is they aren't able to keep up," said Fawver.

In Elizabeth Miller's case, they believe she didn't have intent to harm the animals, which is why she's only facing fines. That's the same situation for a case earlier this summer in Leo, where 212 cats were found inside a home. How things get so bad is largely handled in counseling, as is ways to prevent it from happening in the future.

They're apparently achieving this by creative use of a distinction between "criminal" activities and violations of local bye-laws, so it's not obvious that it would be possible to do something similar in the UK without a change in the law.

Tip: The Animal Hoarding Blog (mostly American)

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