Animal Hoarding: A Closer Look

By KBJR News 1

October 24, 2012 Updated Oct 24, 2012 at 10:19 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's Newscenter) - Animal hoarding is getting attention after 60 cats and kittens were discovered in a flood damaged home in Duluth's Central Hillside.

Animal experts say the problem has deep implications for both humans and our animal companions.

Dozen upon dozens of cats, all living under the same roof.

It's an unbelievable situation, but Dr. Amanda Bruce with PetCare, says many individuals that hoard animals have some type of emotional trauma in their lives.

"They are just highly compassionate people by nature and they are just overwhelmed," Dr. Amanda Bruce, PetCare owner, said.

Bruce said some believe that animals will never let them down.

She said many hoarders seek out predictability and choose to be the caregiver knowing their pets will not leave them.

"Sometimes it's referred to overwhelmed caregivers. And I think in this case, that's exactly what happened. So, he's looking out for the cats in his community and was just overwhelmed by the situation and didn't know where to turn from there," Bruce said.

Bruce said animal hoarding is an underestimated problem.

Mental illness is common in these cases she says, along with a psychological intervention, a run–in with the housing authority and animal care and control is also possible.

Bruce says for cats in particular, hoarders are able to confine the pets to their home and may not be seen by neighbors.

"A lot of times, people will alienate themselves from friends and family members, so it can go undiagnosed for a long time. Until, you have friends and neighbors noticing the smell or passer–by noticing odd things about homes," Bruce said.

The dozens of cats seized from the Central Hillside are on their way to a new home–at least until they are officially adopted.

"The public has been up here since noon yesterday and we've moved about 24 cats through our adoption program here at Duluth and Superior," John Gustafson, director at Animal Allies, said.

The Director of Animal Allies said a medical team is assessing the health conditions of the cats and kittens.

For the cats and kittens that do not go to Animal Allies, some may be put up for the bard cat adoption, Gustafson says.

"Spay and neuter is probably the biggest thing that can be done," Bruce said.

Animal Allies is seeking out support from the community though donations and adoptions following the recent hoarding case.

Adoptions for kittens are full–fee at Animal Allies, however cat adoptions are free.

Justin Reis. NNC. jreis@northlandsnewscenter.com