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Does Your Pet Policy Cover Animal Hoarding?

Does Your Pet Policy Cover Animal Hoarding?

Take a moment to consider your community’s pet policy. Does it specifically address animal hoarding? Would you know how to identify and respond to residents who were hoarding animals? 

 Animal hoarding is a specific type of hoarding that occurs when a person collects animals instead of things. The person may identify with or feel a kinship with the animals. While their motive may be to take care of the animals, hoarding can lead to the unintentional abuse, neglect, and even death of the animals. The Humane Society estimates that nearly 250,000 animals are hoarded annually.

Currently, only two states in the United States have laws specifically addressing animal hoarding. However, each state’s animal cruelty statutes cover animal hoarding; penalties may include fines, counseling, animal forfeiture, and/or jail time. Let’s take a closer look at the laws in Illinois and Hawaii that specifically target animal hoarders.

In Illinois, The Humane Care for Animals Act targets hoarders who do not provide adequate food, shelter, or humane treatment for animals. The Act targets Companion Animal Hoarders as those who:

  • Possess a large number of animals, but fails to provide food shelter, or humane treatment
  • Keep the companion animals in a severely overcrowded environment
  • Displays an inability to recognize or understand the nature of or has reckless disregard for the animal’s environment and the deleterious impact on the animals or owner’s health and well-being.

Counseling is mandated for those convicted under the Act.

Hawaii Senate Bill 3203 places limitations on the number of animals allowed as well as the conditions in which the animals are kept. Currently, Hawaii is the only U.S. state to outlaw animal hoarding. However, the Bill does not mandate counseling or restrict future animal ownership. 

Check with local and state governments for information to learn more about the laws pertaining to animal hoarding and cruelty. If you suspect a resident is hoarding animals of any kind, immediately contact your local animal protective services agency. 

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