I have been reading a report issued by the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC) that addresses the problem of animal hoarding and suggests a multi-faceted approach to dealing with the problem.
One thing that strikes me is that many hoarders are posing as rescuers. And one of the reasons why these people are able to get away with their actions is the extensive network of enablers they develop.
Many people in the animal welfare community genuinely care about animals and want to help. That makes them easy targets for manipulative people who are using animals to reach their own ends.
If you are wondering how you can avoid enabling a sick individual, and not being a party to an animal’s misery, here are a few things to consider:
- Don’t assume non-profit status means the operation is legit. In most states, all you need is under $1000 and an attorney can set you up as a 501c3 organization. There is little oversight in this arena… sadly.
- Be wary of online groups. It’s real easy to set up a fake website. There are cliques on social media sites like Facebook that are questionable. Remember, like attracts like, so don’t assume that because a group of people support the efforts of one, that is a good sign. They may be feeding into each other’s mental illness.
- Be suspicious of cross-posting. Oh, I know I’ll piss a lot of you off with that one. But cross-posting is one of the most emotion-laden actions taken in the name of animal welfare, and how does someone with a rescue complex get their needs met? By coming to the rescue, of course! Oh, and speaking of cross-posting, be suspicious of anyone that agrees to “pull” an animal, but only if a certain amount of money is first raised. Hey, I know caring for animals costs money. But I am highly suspicious of anyone that will rescue only if you pay for them to do so.
- If people are always asking for money, or if they have others always asking for money on their behalf, ya gotta ask yourself why. And if that person is bringing more animals into their home, when they can’t afford the ones they currently have, that should be a red flag.
The best rule of thumb is to invest wisely. And the best way to invest in the welfare of animals is by supporting groups that are acting in the best interest of all animals. The Humane Society of the US and the ASPCA are working on many fronts to make the world a better place for ALL animals. Their efforts include education, lobbying for legislation, as well as rescue efforts. Your local Humane Society or animal shelter could use your money and your time to help animals on a local front. If you truly want to make a difference, that’s where I suggest you focus your efforts.
Animal hoarders are not good people who just got over their heads. They are sick, and their actions lead to the misery, and sometimes death, of animals. If you don’t do your homework, you may be helping to prolong that misery.
And after reading this, if you continue to enable a hoarder, shame on you.