Animal hoarding is a complex phenomenon, the psychopathology of which is still poorly understood. It has only recently been recognized by the American Psychological Association through its inclusion in the standard reference for mental-health professionals, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

According to the DSM, animal hoarding is characterized by “the accumulation of a large number of animals, and a failure to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care, and to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals and the environment.” These criteria tragically illuminate this recent case in Winnipeg: a lack of insight into the well-being of the animals in her care, secrecy about their poor condition and the severity of squalor in the home are all hallmarks of animal hoarding.

It is useful to see animal hoarding as mental illness. This allows us to contend compassionately with the affected individual. Although it may at first seem counterintuitive, an animal hoarder deserves empathy as a fellow human being in need of psychological help. Outrage at the unimaginable suffering of animals should not twist into a simplistic vilification of the person who failed them.

Read on to find out more about exactly what animal hoarding is.


Remember, if you or someone you know is suffering from hoarding, you can contact us at for help.

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