Social media may play role in animal hoarding - WNEM TV 5

Social media may play role in animal hoarding

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It’s a problem that can begin with the best of intentions and end in disaster.

The cause of animal hoarding is not yet fully understood, but its effects can be measured by the number of victims that end up mentally or physically scarred, even dead - and social media may play a part.

“When someone starts collecting a lot of animals they’re doing it for the right reasons and then they get overwhelmed,” said Trish Barnes, animal control officer.

Barnes is part of the Saginaw County hoarding task force. She said she deals with an incident of animal hoarding about once every three months and when she does it can be a sad situation.

“The house is a disaster,” Barnes said. “There’s urine, there’s all sorts of unsafe objects for the animal. No food, no water. They’re just not taking care of the animal. A lot of times the houses are loaded with fleas.”

Barnes said social media is actually making the problem of animal hoarding worse.

“Stop going on Facebook or Craigslist and buying all these animals that are for free,” Barnes said. “A lot of people, that’s where they get them. They don’t want to come to the shelter or go to a breeder. They’ll find them on Facebook, find them on Craigslist. They’ll be free and they feel that they have to save every animal.”

Barnes wants everyone to know there are ways to remove animals from your home, both in a legal and humane way.

She doesn’t want animal owners to wait until it’s too late.

“If they just reach out and let us help them instead of turning it into a hoarding or cruelty investigation, we can really help these people out,” Barnes said.

There are several signs to look for that can indicate hoarding:

  • A strong smell of ammonia
  • Emaciated, lethargic animals
  • A deteriorating home with extreme clutter
  • The owner is isolated and appears to neglect his health

Learn more about animal hoarding by visiting the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' website.

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