Animal Hoarding Cases On the Rise

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

PetSmart Charities disaster relief steps up in 2013

Popular television shows have made “hoarding” a household term over the past few years. Sadly, animal hoarding is becoming more common, with new cases discovered almost daily. Sometimes, the situation started with good-natured people who were doing their best to help pets but became overwhelmed. Other times, cruelty is involved.

More than ever, PetSmart Charities is stepping up to assist the animal victims who desperately need our help.

I sat down with Lori Bell, manager of the Emergency Relief program, to learn more about how PetSmart Charities is able to make a difference in the lives of these pets.

1. It seems that PetSmart Charities Emergency Relief program responded to an unusually large number of pet hoarding cases in 2013. Can you give us an overview of the assistance we provided to those pets in need?

dog hoardingWe responded to 65 multiple animal rescue requests – ranging from 25 to 220 pets.  We provide grants to the local and national animal welfare agencies on the scene, and our funding enables them to accept a large and often unexpected influx of pets from hoarding situations. 

Most of our grant is in the form of in-kind pet supplies, including wire crates, carriers, bowls, puppy pads, collars, leashes, litter, food, treats and enrichment toys.  These urgently needed supplies offer shelter and comfort to the pets coming from deplorable situations. 

Depending on the extent of neglect, the pets may also require medical attention, which is often extensive and costly.  Part of the emergency relief grant funding for medical assistance includes spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations and micro-chipping.

2. Can you walk us through the process you follow after receiving a request for assistance in a hoarding case?

After the request is received through our website and qualified, we call the responding animal welfare agency to discuss immediate needs and the type of support we can provide. 

In some cases, the pets are already in their shelter and in desperate need of medical assistance to get them healthy and ready for adoption.  In other situations, the group needs supplies such as wire crates, kennels and plastic cat carriers to accommodate the large influx of pets.  

Ultimately, our goal is to provide funds for immediate medical assistance and then work with the animal welfare agency to coordinate an adoption event.  These events help the pets find the forever homes they deserve.  We love to look at the big picture and watch the pets, who have come from terrible situations, get the treatment and care they need and start the next chapter of their lives.

3. Is animal hoarding illegal?

Yes. Animal hoarding is covered under every state's animal cruelty statute. Each municipality, county and state has their own unique laws related to animal cruelty.

4. Are there options for people who suddenly find themselves with more pets than they’re able to care for?

If you think you have more animals than you can properly care for, start by working with your local animal shelter or rescue group, humane society or SPCA to get the help you need.

5. What can people do if they suspect a pet hoarding situation in their community?

If you suspect someone is an animal hoarder, contact your local humane society, police department, or animal control department. Alerting the authorities is the first step in getting the people and pets involved the help they need.

Earlier this year, PetSmart Charities interviewed Adam Parascandola, director of animal cruelty response for the Humane Society of the United States, and Kathryn Destreza, investigations director for the ASPCA Field Investigation and Response Team. The pair discussed how animal welfare organizations find themselves in these situations as well.



I am a dog breeder that has a problem with a person who bought a puppy from me over a year ago. She lives in another state. recently this dog had puppies and I am concerned about them. This woman calls me daily and I have gotten to know her over the phone. I believe she is a hoarder. About 2 yrs ago she had a fire in her home and the authorities found 17 cats inside, clutter and litter boxes piled to the ceiling and they had to physically remove her from the burning house as she would not leave her cats. Since that time she moved into a smaller home, still owns the former home, and has bought Collies from various breeders, one from Canada. She admits to 20 cats in her home, 4 grown dogs and 5 9 week old puppies. Since the puppies were born there has been one "accident" after another. One pup has 2 hair line fractures of her ribs, (This is what she told me as she never too the pup to the Vet's) and now she has another pup with a broken leg. Again, she says this as she never took him to the Vet's. I'm afraid I lost it when she told me this yesterday after she told me one of her cats is sick and in with the puppies. I told her to get the cat out of there and she said, "I don't care if all the puppies end up dead, this cat is so important to me, she is my baby." I told her she needed to get those puppies into new homes and stop breeding dogs! Well, as you can imagine she is mad!

She is living in a house with no furnace, no hot water, no working bathroom, no working stove. Now, since I have never been to her home, I am only going on what she has told me over the months so I haven't seen anything. What can I do about this? I am heartsick about the situation. Also, she passes herself off as a cat rescue but in all the time I've know her, she has only let one cat go. She also goes to her burned out house to "feed the ferals " as she calls them and the wild raccoon living there.

I hope you can advise me.

Thank you,


Hi Betty, I'm sorry to hear about this. Have you reached out to your local law enforcement about this? It's always best to contact authorities anytime you suspect animal abuse or neglect.


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