Skip to Main Content

Helping or Hoarding?

Written by PETA | February 4, 2011

Many of us have had a peek into the bizarre world of hoarding courtesy of reality television. Accumulating piles and piles of household junk is bad enough, but when hoarders collect living animals, the results are extreme neglect, suffering, and death.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), “It is likely that up to a quarter million animals—250,000 per year—are victims of hoarders. What’s more, records kept by ALDF indicate that in the last four years, the number of reported hoarding cases has more than doubled. In terms of the number of animals affected and the degree and duration of their suffering, hoarding is the number one animal cruelty crisis facing companion animals in communities throughout the country.”

Alarmingly, as a result of public pressure to avoid euthanasia at all costs, the hoarding mentality has infiltrated animal shelters. reports that groups calling themselves “rescues” and “shelters” currently account for one-fourth of the estimated 6,000 new hoarding cases annually reported in the U.S. This is just one more way that trying to become “no-kill” before becoming “no-birth” hurts animals.

Cat suffering horribly at Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary.
No-kill shelters sentence animals to a life in prison.

When animal shelters and rescue groups—such as South Carolina’s terribly inaccurately named Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary—aren’t themselves hoarding animals, they sometimes farm out animals to anyone who will take them, including hoarders, in order to reduce the number of animals they euthanize. Here are just two examples:

  • In December 2010, the New Jersey SPCA and police raided the home of so-called animal rescuer Dawn Scheld and seized nearly 60 dogs who were hoarded in reportedly “filthy” conditions on her property. According to news reports, “When agents arrived, most of the animals were living in their own waste, a number of them in outside pens with insufficient shelter, little evidence of food, and frozen water. Most were suffering from some kind of illness, and many were in serious condition ….” Scheld had acquired many of the dogs from animal shelters that hand over animals to anyone claiming to be a “rescue” in order to reduce their euthanasia statistics. 
  • In September 2010, authorities raided an apartment rented by a foster caregiver for several Austin-area animal shelters and seized 78 cats. One-third of the cats were found dead in an unplugged refrigerator. The ironically named organization Austin Pets Alive! stated, “We have been informed by TLAC [Town Lake Animal Control] authorities that 5 of the 75 [sic] seized cats were originally saved by us from TLAC’s euthanasia list.” The hoarder had also adopted cats directly from TLAC
Flooding left these dogs with nowhere to go.


No animal should ever have to live in conditions like this.

Please help keep animals out of hoarders’ hands by volunteering to help your local animal shelter screen potential placement partners, rescue groups, and adopters. Contact PETA for free placement partner applications and agreements. Please also spay and neuter all your animal companions—it’s the only real way to prevent animals from being born only to end up homeless or hoarded.

Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post

Commenting is closed.
  • daems linda says:

    je ne comprend pas l’anglais mais toute ces cruauté envers les animaux est intolérable …….

  • melmac says:

    Shelters of any kind – even no kill, sometimes must face the choice of euthanizing an animal. Most of the time it’s because that animal is indeed a threat to the public (too feral) or too sick to recover.

    I also do not understand the sudden change of shelter support PETA. Are you for or against shelters, because it seems like you only shift on your opinion based on the wind.

  • Toby says:

    I wonder if having a program about hoarding aids the illusion that the desire to hoard is a genetic-disease, or is more normal than it is & thus some people are being fooled into believing they have the ‘hoarding gene’… people who otherwise wouldn’t bother acting crazy… people who are compelled to mimic bad behavior from a lack intellect. Anyway, learning about particular hoarders is not entertainment.

  • lisa says:

    Amimal shelters are alot to blame by the looks of it they seem to be very keen to give these animals to anyone, before actually finding out anything about the person and more inportantally if they are capable of actually looking after the animal, they seem just interested in getting rid.

  • Joanna says:

    I’m sorry, I have become the extreme the abuse I see is unexplainable in Tulare county, California. I just want new laws that people need to be put down, in the same quantities as animals. I really wish I had the right to use a gun cause I would have no problem putting them out of their misery so they don’t take it out on animals.

  • tom moore says:

    Looks like they are in dire need of more funding and help. It’s a crying shame the US Government won’t help with this problem as they help with every other cause.

  • Jos says:

    It is all very well for the public to cry out against euthanasia but surely, when you see this, that must be a more humane approach to what is essentially the result of human neglect i.e. not neutering. There should be legislation for pet owners to have a “drivers licence” before they are allowed pet ownership. THAT would be popular with legilators!

  • Emmy says:

    I’m moving within the next year and (before i say this i am a vegan and an animals rights activist)once I do I will be on a LOT of land, i’m going to take in animals like these (NOT HOARD) and take good care of them. I am also a veterianrian so if one is injured I can simply help them or quarantine them until they are better. They will not be forced to worry about abuse anymore, and I will also a have large portion for wild animals that have been forced into irresponsible homes or miserable roadside zoo, i will also have animals from slaughter houses, and animals that are shot and not killed but left in the forrest and I will ALSO have animals that are on shooting ranges, so basically ill have any abused animal of any type. but before you think horder, i must tell you, i have over 11 THOUSAND square acres

  • Carla says:

    I have to say that, while I agree that sterilization is the most important goal, I can’t agree that all animals living temporarily in crowded conditions should be put down. Would you rather live in an apartment with 5 roomates for a while, that isn’t clean, and then get your own apartment later, or would you rather be killed? Dealing with the problem isn’t killing the animals, unless they have severe health problems that cannot be healed. That’s still running from the problem, and I think the animals are the ones being punished. I just feel that this line of reasoning could sometimes go too far and animals who would have hope for a second chance at a happy life would be killed before getting that chance. I remember when my mother was in the hospital and doctors and nurses told us she would die, they were sure, and she’s perfectly healed now. Have a little faith.

  • nancy says:

    I noticed some praises for some specific no-kill shelters that have good living conditions. The problem is those shelters turn away animals who need help because they don’t have more room. These animals are left to suffer in physical pain due to illness or accidents or they’re left to try to survive on the streets. We all know the tragedies that happen to them on the streets. So while those particular no-kill shelters provide a good home for the animals they have, they must turn away animals who desperately need help.

  • nancy says:

    This is terrible. Euthanasia for humane purposes is much better than hoarding.

  • MonikaD says:

    This is so sick.Who ever does this to any Animals should be brought to Justice.

  • Garry Saunders says:

    Ok. How many No-Kill shelters are like this? How many Kill shelters are like this? Do some numbers and we might be closer to the truth. No-Kill really must be a great thing if it is attracting this much opposition.

    Mahatma Gandhi said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” No-kill is getting closer to winning.

  • Joline says:

    This is ridiculous, NO animal should live this way, they feel, they love and the respect and honor us and this is the thanks for some, i know hoarding is a disease they may feel like there doing good to there pets but living with animals that look like these pics or having dead animals in the household is not right, i wish the government or someone would force the rules for animal cruelty someone who has a louder voice then we do!!

  • Denise says:

    I agree completely with Dawn.  While I generally agree with PETA’s work, in  this respect I don’t think they could be more wrong.  I have worked with various no-kill shelters that would suffer unnecessarily from being categorized in this way.  

  • Lauren says:

    It’s all good and well to say how horrified you are about the conditions these animals live in, but how about you get up and do something about it.  I’m sick and tired of people complaining about how many animals are in shelters, yet YOU ALL do nothing about it.  I am a dedicated foster carer for dogs and cats and it is so rewarding.  My local council states that only 2 dogs are allowed on a premises at a time however I have fostered up to 4 at a time, and yes they were a handful at times but they all brought me great joy and I loved giving them the attention and affection some had never recieved.  Maybe if more people took action and did something productive about the problem, these issues wouldn’t exist.

  • Denise says:

    There is a difference between a shelter that euthanizes due to severity of illness, to prevent suffering, and a shelter that decides they simply don’t have room so they kill.  The second option is disgusting to me.  Many shelters operate ethically and do not overcrowd, and it is unfortunate that they have to turn animals away, but that is where TNR programs come in.

    Painting all ‘no-kill’ shelters with the same disturbing brush is wrong.  I personally do not donate to ‘kill’ shelters, but I also make a point of researching the groups I donate to and visiting where I can.

  • Dawn says:

    I also wanted to say that I adopted my two happy, healthy cats from a no-kill shelter. A friend of a friend was a foster parent to them (who is NOT an animal hoarder, she keeps only two cats at a time and lives in an extremely clean and beautiful apartment) and I fully support that shelter. The shelter they were from is a very clean place with lots of happy, healthy animals. Please stop being so black and white about this issue.

  • Dawn says:

    I usually support PETA’s message to demand the end of animal cruelty. But this is something I completely disagree with. Animal hoarding and no-kill shelters are two completely different issues. People who are animal hoarders have issues in themselves that need to be mentally worked out. No-kill shelters that sometimes have “foster parents” to take care of some animals obviously need to fix how they are running their facilities. They should conduct interviews and inspections of the places the animals will be “fostered.” In no way do I think an animal should ever live in those conditions. However, PETA is giving no credit to these shelters that their hearts and intent is in the right place. PETA feels these animals should die instead of being at no-kill shelters or foster families. I very much disagree. What PETA should do is put the no-kill shelters under their wings and support them by offering workers or volunteers to keep up acceptable facilities. They could add those shelters as part of their donations list so they can get help with cleaning, animals getting medical care, building sufficient shelter, and spaying/neutering. I do not see killing suffering animals as a means of being ethical, PETA. When you come across no-kill shelters with poor facilities and suffering animals, use your power and influence to HELP them become a sanctuary for perfectly adoptable animals.

  • dore elisabeth says:

    c’est vraiement horrible comment peut on etre si cruels

  • Tazzy says:

    I think that common sense should be used as in some cases the animal may need to be put to sleep rather than suffer. Cannot believe that people can be so stupid and so cruel. Reckon there is a special place in hell for people who abuse Gods creates. Man was meant to care for them not abuse them.

  • Gala says:

    Sorry but I have to say that I think no kill is the way to go.  Being Buddhist, putting an animal down because of limited space is still killing.  The only way to stop the problems that can be seen here are to spay and neuter.  I do not believe that it is fair to kill any living creature simply because someone thinks that it’s “more humane”.  Murder is still murder no matter how you slice it.  Sorry if this upsets any of you, but it’s just the way I feel.

  • Justified says:

    It’s true that we should give animals a decent life and a decent death, ONLY WHEN THE NEED TO DIE. It is not correct to kill animals only because they have is place to live or because the treatment to recover the animal is expensive, healthy animals shouldn’t be killed, animals with a chance of recovering, SHOUDLN´T BE KILLED. We must concentrate all our efforts in sterilizations; this is the answer to all the problems.

  • Suzy Cafazzo says:

    It’s very sad to see the suffering of these animals

  • Linda says:

    Hope these animals were saved!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • friendbear says:

    I posted my comment aout the ribnon on the other page. I asked peta for help with a south carolina shelter an was turned down 🙁

    All you can do to ensure theyre truly safe is adopt them yourselves, if youve room, and can keep them happy and comfortable then you should! Personally, the operation alleycat idea is the only way to ensure towncats are healthy, and alive. Its proven to work, dont see why it isnt the first option.

  • Manon says:

    Omg!! I’m soo pissed right now it’s not even funny!!! This sooooo needs to stop!! seriously!!!

  • Saurabh says:

    rather to cry, we all should raise r hands n start doing something… its 4 humans… now 1 shud look at in itself n decide..

  • downtown says:

    It is a shame what the poor animals go through. Working for animal control you see awful and unbelievable things. The hoarders are the worst!

  • MaryC says:

    They should never be treated like that, they have the right to live a happy and a comfortable life as much as us human. I really wish to help but no PETA centres in Malta.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    A recent episode of “Hoarders” featured a man who hoarded pet rats. He had so many of them that they had destroyed his home, chewing into the walls, furniture and bedding. They were quite literally everywhere…

  • Taj says:

    To Sarah:

    This site is not a platform for human mental health issues. I have my own opinions about people using their “conditions” as an excuse for poor behaviour and decisions, but this site is not the appropriate forum. Positive input, helpful suggestions, tangible offers of help….that’s what’s needed here 🙂    

  • lori says:

    Ok, first ooff the pic with dogs with the water?? People let’s be realtic!! Compare that picture with the poor cat or the disgusting **** filled piled on cages below the picture of the dog sitting on crates with a dog house, which I might add it is out of the water. Weathedr happens, and those kennels look clean, and they all have shelters….. Pick your fights and put the energy where its really needed!

  • Clarissa says:

    yes… what else can we do to help?

  • celticwitch1966 says:

    I can’t believe this

  • lisa says:

    I cannot look at stuff like this.I do have 12 cats,i little dog who is 12 yrs old,3 guinea pigs and 4 small birds.BUT,the cats are spayed and neutered.All but one are rescues that I could not find good homes for.But,I will do without my self to give to them because they desrve to be loved and cared for.Actually they are the boss of me because I love them and i would NEVER leave them in cages or let them get the way that some of these people let their animals get!I hate this kind of thing!!! I just hate it!!!

  • April says:

    That is just PLAIN awful… Most hoarders have mental problems and think they are helping when they really aren’t……. If you know someone who is like this, definitely try to do something- call the animal shelter

  • willems says:

    stop cruetly animals

  • nicole says:

    OMG… I almost cried 🙁 how I wish I could just take all of them home and give them the right care, right & healthy food, comfortable shelter to each and everyone of them.

  • Francoise says:

    There is no respect what so ever for living being and specially NONE for animals. They are always the victims of humane ignorance and imbecility !

  • Lacey Matthews says:

    My grandmother was a hoarder (of objects, not animals). Yes, it is a mental condition, but she wasn’t crazy and it’s no excuse for animal abuse.

  • AMCninja says:

    This is why “no kill’ is not always better. They will let animals suffer until they die naturally so they can continue to say they are “no kill”. It’s horrible. This was exposed at the Toronto Humane Society in recent years and it was the first time I was exposed to the ugly side of “no kill”. Sometimes putting an animal down is the best way to show that animal respect, and compassion.

  • Natascha says:

    That really makes me cry….:((

  • sarah says:

    hording yes is horrible but PETA you must realize that hording is a mental condition these people have NO clue what they are doing they dont see the problem.

  • LoVeLy says:

    OMG that poor Cat 🙁

  • friendbear says:

    Very similar to animalaids purple ribbon for animal war memorials, should be available to wear for uk members

  • Ina May Gunson says:

    Please do the right thing. Animals do not have a voice & something tells me that if they did have a voice, they would speak up about this & ask for fair treatment.

  • anne says:

    Its so sad how such beautiful animals have to be kept in cages. They should be allowed to run free

  • marti wood says:

    omg….this looks awful…what can i do to help? no animal should ever suffer like this.