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HOARDING: THE ANIMAL ASPECT. Heather Hedrick, BS, MBA City of Corpus Christi Animal Care Services. Warning. The photos in this presentation may be offensive or troubling to some viewers.

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hoarding the animal aspect


Heather Hedrick, BS, MBA

City of Corpus Christi

Animal Care Services


The photos in this presentation may be offensive or troubling to some viewers.

Photos of animals and people in this presentation do not depict actual cases in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Photos in this presentation are used for educational purposes only.


The accumulation of a large number of animals,overwhelming a person’s ability to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, and veterinary care.


The person fails to acknowledge the deteriorating condition of the animals & household environment. (including disease, starvation, and even death)

profile of an animal hoarder
Profile of an Animal Hoarder
  • 76% are female
  • 46% are 60 years of age or older
  • Most are unmarried and do not have close relationships with family
  • Over ½ live alone
  • In 69% of the cases animal feces and urine accumulate in living areas, and ¼ of the hoarder’s beds were soiled with animal feces
  • Dead or sick animals are reported in 80% of the cases
who are they
Who Are They?
  • Animal hoarders come from all social and demographic backgrounds.
  • Although hoarders tend to be socioeconomically disadvantaged people, there have been multiple cases with working professionals such as college professors, nurses, bankers, rescuers and even veterinarians.
media coverage enablers
Media Coverage..Enablers?
  • The collector’s insistence that he or she wants to save animals’ lives plays well to the press, and journalists often naively glorify such people.

Heartwarming stories are recounted that highlight the gruesome conditions the hoarder’s victims are forced to endure, in their plight to save animals lives.

These stories often have the effect, of causing already overwhelmed individuals to acquire even more animals.
addressing the media
Addressing the Media..
  • Educate the media about the realities of the animals’ conditions, and the psychology of the animal hoarder.
  • Use video footage or pictures taken during the rescue.
  • Allow the media to observe and film the condition of the animals. Encourage them to follow-up in the coming days and weeks for new developments.
veterinarian connection
Veterinarian Connection
  • Veterinarians may be unwitting enablers.
  • A well-meaning veterinarian who regularly refers unwanted animals to a client or staff member and sends samples of food or supplies home with that person may be facilitating the accumulation of an unmanageable number of animals.
tips for veterinarian staff in identifying hoarders
Tips for veterinarian staff in identifying hoarders
  • A constantly changing parade of pets, most seen once and not again.
  • Visits for problems not usually seen in good preventive health care, such as trauma or infectious disease.
  • Rarely seeing the same animal for diseases of old age, such as cancer or heart disease.
May travel great distances to the practice, come at odd hours, and use multiple veterinarians so as not to tip them off about the number of animals.
  • May seek heroic and futile care for animals they have recently found.
  • Bringing in a relatively presentable animal in an attempt to get medication for more seriously ill animals at home
  • Being unwilling or unable to say how many animals they have.
Claiming to have just found or rescued an animal in obviously deplorable condition, although the condition of the animal, including strong odor of urine, overgrown nails, and muscle atrophy, may be more indicative of confinement in filthy conditions than wandering the streets.
  • An interest in rescuing even more animals, including checking bulletin boards and questioning other clients.

The primary purposes of prosecuting an animal hoarder for cruelty to animals is to:

  • Separate him or her from the animal victims.
  • Encourage the legal system to oversee that the hoarder receives the psychological counseling needed to prevent the person from repeating the abusive behavior.

Cruelty To Animals


(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly:

(1) tortures an animal;

(2) fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, care, or shelter for an animal in the person's custody;

(3) abandons unreasonably an animal in the person's custody;

(4) transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner;


(5) kills, seriously injures, or administers poison to an animal

(6) causes one animal to fight with another

  • An offense under Subsection (a)(2), (3), (4), (9), or (10) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if the person has previously been convicted two times under this section.
problems animal control faces
Problems Animal Control Faces

Due to the enormous pet overpopulation problem, Animal Care Services faces constant constraints of overcrowding.

  • Required Sweeps
  • Owner Surrenders
  • Strays
problems animal control faces1
Problems Animal Control Faces

Animal Services does not have the budget to obtain proper training for all staff members.

Animal Services does not have the man-power or funding to address and follow up on all complaints.

associated costs for housing confiscated animals
Associated Costs for Housing Confiscated Animals
  • Personnel Costs including overtime (don’t forget benefit costs)
    • Constant & Dedicated Kennel care
    • Court time
    • Administrative Costs
    • Cruelty Officer & Crime Scene Equipment
    • Humane housing and building fees
  • Veterinary care above and beyond shelter costs
  • Animal food & Medicine
  • Other associated costs…grooming, euthanasia (if necessary.)
what about the human factor
What About the Human Factor?
  • Low Wages & Long Hours
  • A Never Ending Battle
  • Mental & Physical Fatigue
  • Long Term Emotional Factors
  • Burn Out….
what s taking aco time
What's Taking ACO Time:
  • Answering animal related field calls and addressing citizen complaints. Following up on those complaints & calls.
  • Sweeps and loose animal enforcement.
  • Investigating animal bites and cruelty cases. Filing cases and attending court.
  • Picking up wildlife in traps.
  • Taking care of the animals at the shelter 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.
  • Networking with rescues to save animals.
  • Adoptions of animals to the public.
  • Euthanasia of unwanted animals. Relocation of bodies to the City landfill.
  • Assisting walk-in customers with tags, lost/found pets and other issues.
  • Inspecting businesses.
  • Providing vet care and vaccines for shelter and public owned animals.
  • Picking up deceased animals at vet offices…..etc.
corpus christi stats
Corpus Christi Stats…
  • Population in 2012: 312,195
  • (99% urban, 1% rural).
    • Citydata.com

How many have pets?

do the math
Do the Math
  • Animal Care Services Impounded almost 9000 animals in 2012…..
current number of animal control officers assignments
Current Number of Animal Control Officers & Assignments
  • 3 Supervisors
  • 2 Front Office / Vet Clinic
  • 3 Kennels, Intake & Euthanasia
  • 15 Field Calls


= 23

24 hours a day / 7 days a week

building strategic alliances
  • Animal Control Officers
  • Shelter/Humane Society Personnel
  • State Veterinarian’s Office
  • City/county court prosecutors
  • District Attorney’s Office
  • Police/Sheriff’s Department
  • Local Health Department
  • Social Service Agencies
  • Veterinary Community
  • Code Enforcement
  • Community Support & Volunteers
what can i do
What Can I Do?
  • Volunteer to become a Foster.
  • Donate tangible goods..(cat litter, towels, collars, leashes, flea products..etc) We do not take monetary donations at this time.
  • Donate gift cards from Petco, Petsmart..etc.
  • Sponsor adoption fees.
    • $70 average cost of adoption.
    • Spay/Neuter, shots, microchip..
use facebook social media
Use Facebook & Social Media
  • Save abandoned animals lives by crossposting / sharing them online, such as on social networking websites like Facebook.
  • Go to PAAC Facebook or PetHarbor.com
current shelter needs
Current Shelter Needs


  • Lobby Kiosk of adoptable animals.
  • Laptop & Projector for presentations.