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Hoarders Hurt Animals

Written by PETA | September 13, 2010

Animal hoarding was a dirty secret until hoarders began to appear on our TV screens and showed us how they are compelled to collect so many dogs, cats, or parrots that the animals end up living in cages that are only inches bigger than the animals’ own bodies—for their entire lives.

Imagine what it must be like for these animals—stuck in a see-through box, sitting in their own filth, unable to take a step, never comfortable, constantly being yelled at to be quiet, or ignored because their captors are so accustomed to hearing them crying, whining, and working away at the cage bars?


kennels in garage


Now, though, the cat’s out of the bag, and perhaps more cats will soon be out of hoarders’ hands.

But, like a virus, the hoarding impulse has morphed into something even more insidious. Hoarders are trying to take over our animal shelters.

One hundred years ago, New Yorkers stopped stray dogs from being drowned in the Hudson. Forty years ago, humane societies stopped municipalities from killing unwanted dogs and cats by using hot, unfiltered truck exhaust fumes, causing the animals to choke to death.

Today, while some primitive pounds remain, great strides in humane sheltering standards have been made. There are places where behaviorists work to reduce abandoned animals’ separation anxiety, groomers cut away matted hair to make animals comfortable and adoptable, and walkers are employed to ensure that no cage paralysis sets in. There are municipal animal shelters that cope with tens of thousands of animals a year yet still provide a comfortable, caring environment.

But “institutional hoarders” now threaten to turn back the clock on these hard-won reforms by bullying authorities into adopting magical-sounding “no-kill” policies that do animals no favors. Inside such hoarding facilities (many of which eventually end up in the news after raids by law enforcement agencies), dogs and cats—sick or healthy, old or young—are reduced to withdrawn and pathetic wrecks because of the crowding and neglect that they endure.


hoarder cat


caged dogs


In well-run animal shelters, managers know that you can’t store animals as if they were oranges. Tough decisions must be made about who remains on the adoption floor and who goes to sleep forever. As long as people fail to spay and neuter their animal companions, continue to acquire and dispose of animals casually, and buy from breeders and pet shops instead of adopting, there will be far more dogs and cats than there are good homes for them all. Millions more.

Many hoarding facilities leave the dirty work to others, refusing to accept sick, aged, or “unadoptable” animals. In order to avoid euthanasia, they reduce operational hours to prevent drop-offs and adopt animals into bad homes. Severe crowding means that diseases flourish, causing misery and, ironically, often leading to mass euthanasia of all the animals, even those who entered the facility in good health.

In New Jersey recently, a no-kill group that had been in charge of a particular animal shelter left the shelter to another group’s management. Their successors had this to say about what they found when they took over:

“The conditions at the shelter are … what’s the right word? Abysmal, horrendous, shocking, horrifying, take your pick. It’s difficult to put into words what it’s like to see 99 dogs crammed into a facility built to comfortably house only 50. What it’s like to witness 274 cats in a building meant for only 80. Perhaps the best description is a word we in this field know only [too] well: HOARDER.

“The facility is disgusting. … Cats come in healthy, get sick, and die. Kittens drop dead in their cages every day. … Dogs … spend 23 1/2 hours in cages where they can’t stand up or turn around, can’t stretch their limbs, where they can’t get away from their own filth. Their noses are rubbed raw and bloody and many have split pads from getting their feet caught in the wire pop-up cages meant for cats. And this place called itself a no-kill shelter.”

Giving an animal a quiet, painless, and peaceful death is a sad indictment of our throwaway society, but a life in a cramped, filthy cage is not a “rescue.”



Last month in Virginia, PETA ran an ad pleading for homes for 28 cats. Three people responded. In the same area, PETA has spayed or neutered more than 63,000 dogs and cats. Birth prevention never completely staunches the flow of unwanted animals, but “fixing” one dog or cat saves countless more animals from homelessness and misery.

Municipalities need to stand firm. Time and money must go into mandatory spaying and neutering as well as guardianship education—not into warehousing animals. The no-kill movement is harmful to humane sheltering.

Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk

Commenting is closed.
  • Insider says:

    Sarah S, well run no-kill shelters do work hard to get animals adopted, but they must restrict the number and “quality” of animals they take in. That means they simply turn away less desirable animals. They’re still killed, just not by the “no-kill” staff. A shelter that does not restrict admissions is either a “hoarder” or a “kill shelter”, because there is a never ending flow of unwanted pets.

  • Jay says:

    This comes from a person who admits to having no companion animals… I implore you Ingrid to take a closer look at these shelters. Look at the ones collecting massive amounts of donations from various individuals not just some rich person’s bank roll Look at the level of vet care they receive look at their adoption practices. Look at some of the valid humane shelters out there doing this and then criticize hoarders for who and what they are instead of lumping them in under the nokill tag with these honest nokill shelters.

  • Debra says:

    i am a volunteer for a rescue shelter. these kitties run the roost they have the best food and care all of them are fixed and have their shots i have 2 rescue sweeties that i have had for several years they are the best i just got one from the pound poor thing hes sick….i foster many kitties from time to time till a home can be found. they are well loved here or at the kitty compound i cant believe that human beings treat their shoes better than their pets…hey lets cage them with the other hoarders and see what happens….bet they wont like that

  • Chloe says:

    I watched the show on animal hoarding and saw a woman who hoarded cats. Some where dead and some where alive others barely alive. Animal hoarding makes me sick!

  • Gloria T says:

    I was just wondering is there anybody on this blog post that has seen the tragedies that the dog in El Salvador have to endure there is no animal shelter and they walk the street searching for food and are kicked by the locals most of them have skin problems flea infestation and are literaly dying of hunger they are hit by cars and left for dead . It’s really sad and as and animal lover and animal rights crusader I wish there was something I could do …

  • Darla Ramsey says:

    “No kill” policies are never in the best interests of animals. Hoarders and those who operate no kill warehouses selfishly collect some animals while the real work is done by open admission shelters and those who spay and neuter their rescued animals. Great article Ingrid!

  • Willow says:

    It is a sad fact but we have too animals and not enough homes! Putting them in cages for years and years is unacceptable. It’s lonely miserable and causes anxiety in these otherwise loving animals.

  • Elaine says:

    Nokill shelters are no solution. Would you want to sit in a cage your whole life without companionship family daily trips to the park or other outings or places to explore? Animals in nokill shelters are deprived of everything that makes an animals’ life complete. We’re only making ourselves feel better by keeping them alive but a quick merciful death is better than a life of misery. The real solution is always the same spay or neuter and boycott pet stores and breeders.

  • Dennis Carlson says:

    It’s a shame that some folks care more about their own emotional wellbeing than that of the animals they are working to protect. Feeling righteous about “saving” animals should not be the ultimate goal of any animal advocate. Doing what’s best for the animal is the ultimate goal and in many cases that means a painless release from a life without purpose or meaning or connection or love. There really isn’t that fine a line between nokill facilities and hoarding. Keeping animals in cages for their entire lives for the sake of some misguided need to keep them alive is more about the sensibilities of the personpeople doing it far less about the animal. If you got three hots and a cot everyday but nothing else would you still be happy? Ask a prisoner.

  • gurmeet singh says:

    live n let live…..thats all the society needs to understand n act accordingly also…

  • Rebekah Long says:

    How is this day and age can such ‘Cruelty’ be allowed? The animals are all creatures of this earth and all deserve a GOOD life…..Stop this hoarding and Punish the Hoarders…..put them in cages in their own filth etc etc….i love to see it !

  • diane field says:

    well said. I hate when people play the “PETA kills animals card”. Any smart person who has actually worked in rescue I have worked at a town shelter understands that housing every single stray in a town is damn near impossible. Unfortunatley until people stop breeding start neutering and stop dumping pets this is the reality for most of the animals in this country. Be mad at the sourcenot people like PETA and shelters who have their hands tied. No one wants to see an animal die but funds and space is NOT unlimited. Some ppl need a reality check.

  • Char says:

    Well I wouldnt jump to the conclusion that all nokill shelters are bad. We have one near us I got my cat there they have wonderful facility’s and the animals come in and get forever homes very quickly. The whole facility is based around the animalthe cats have an outdoor sheltered pen with a ramp indoors to a heated sleeping area and the dogs have the same but with a door instead of a ramp. All animals are spayed or neutered microchipped and have 1 year pet insurance after adoption. I dont know it might be different in the US but in the UK the quality of the majority of RSPCA no kill shelters is incredibly high! I think routine inspections should be done in shelters and if their standard of care is not good enough or it is becoming a hoarding problem the animals should be conviscated. An even better idea is fostering out animals the cats protection trust here in the UK does that and it works well. I also know of some US guinea pig rescues that do that 3

  • Trisha Prout says:

    People make me sick… Why have an animal if you dont want to treat it properly.. I would like to lock these scum bags up like how they do to their animals…

  • AnaLiza says:

    They Need a Chance!!! Is there no end to what people will do to poor animals. Animals were put here to enrich our lives with love and friendship What if it were the other way around.???

  • Konstantina Kanellpoulou says:

    I have been involved in rescuing and helping stray animals over the last 12 years. I have also witnessed terrible living conditions of many dogs. Dogs tied to trees or tractors on short chains ALL OF THEIR LIVES. Never taken for walks never pet never to play with other dogs. NEVER. Just to sit at the end of a chain. An intellegent social animal like the dog doesn’t deserve this. It makes them insane. If these conditions are to be their lives then it is not a life worth living. Please watch out for those shelters that are nokill shelters.

  • Sylvie says:

    Law has to be more stronger for them… to buy one or to return one… like a toaster you dont like the color or dont match your living room …Only stronge law will have an impact and pevention in school and no more petshop only you will can adopt in shelter only by selectionning to right…people. Sylvie

  • Anita Ranmal says:

    I think its fantastic that this sick act has been exposed. These innocent animals are suffering at the mercy of selfish and disgusting beings. We need to work together to put an end to this inhumane act and allow these animals to have a safe and happy life.

  • Phil Scafe says:

    This really is disgusting and heartbreaking. People will always be doing stupid things like this and then go to sleep at night in their comfy beds. It is our duty to inform them that what they are doing is wrong and in fact not decent. I will always do my part.

  • Leslie Ganczewski says:

    While I agree that hoarding hurts animals I do not agree that nokill is harmful to humane sheltering. There is a difference between nokill and hoarding.

  • Sarah S. says:

    I resent the implication that a NoKill policy is a bad one. Surely there are bad interpretations of that idea but I know of a lot of fabulous nokill shelters. These people just plain work harder to get their animals adopted rather than killing them. Shelters were put in place to save animals’ lives not kill them. PETA’s “rescues” would do well to use the money they spend to put animals down to better advertise them and hold frequent spayneuter clinics not only around the country but around the world.

  • Ana Isabel Rodríguez Pà says:

    Something has to be done. This is a disgusting situation they are killing them bit by bit which is worst.

  • Melinda says:

    I adopted my cat from a nokill shelter. It is a series of foster homes that houses cats until forever homes can be found. This is a good solution. A bad solution is hoarding. Please distinguish between those good shelters that really do get vet care and give love to the animals versus those that simply corral them into cages to rot.

  • monique Lelievre says:

    Please stop this cruel act on these poor animals..What if it was your child being treated like this? People think of their PETS as Family. I know I do. THat is why I have 2 dogs and 4 domestic cats 2 sphynx cats and a fish. They are alot of work but I would not have it any other way. THey are my family and they live like kings and queens in my home. Stop this Now. Every animal deserves a chance at getting into a loving home and if they do not at least let them live out their life in a comfortable enviroment.