Animal Hoarding

Jane N. Nathanson and Gary J. Patronek

in Pathological Altruism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738571
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918669 | DOI:
Animal Hoarding

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This chapter discusses how an animal hoarder’s professed mission to rescue animals degenerates into a pattern of chronic animal neglect, cruelty, and death, since hoarders fail to fulfill the animals’ needs for proper nutrition, health care, and environmental conditions. We postulate how hoarding behavior may evolve from hoarders’ having experienced childhood neglect, abuse, or unstable parenting; their failure to develop functional attachment styles; and their reliance on compulsive caregiving of animals to fulfill their own emotional needs. The relationship between animal hoarders and their animals may initially serve both animals and people, but the relationship deteriorates as hoarders exceed their capacities to care for their animals. Unable to distinguish “self” from “others,” hoarders futilely utilize their pets as means of self-repair. Furthermore, hoarders, others in residence, and people and animals in the community are at risk of safety and health problems associated with the toxic environment created by animal hoarding.

Keywords: animals; pets; hoarding; neglect; cruelty; attachment behavior; caregiving

Chapter.  4458 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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