Task Force to address hoarding issues

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Task force to address hoarding issues

PIMA COUNTY, February 20, 2020 –Pima Animal Care Center is teaming up with the Pima County Health Department, Pima Council on Aging and other community organizations to address hoarding cases and instances involving overwhelmed caregivers who have too many pets. The first meeting will be held Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Room at Pima Animal Care Center. The second will be held Feb. 26 at 1:30 p.m. at Abrams Public Health Center.

“In most cases, pet owners start out with the best of intentions,” said Kristen Hassen, Director of Animal Services. “They begin acquiring pets, but at some point they reach a tipping point, either because the pets aren’t sterilized or continue to breed or because they keep getting more and more animals.”

So far in 2020, PACC Animal Protection Officers have responded to seven with 10 or more animals in a home. In 2019, the shelter saw 37 hoarding cases, and there were 36 in 2018.

According to the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium at Tufts University, hoarding is not defined by the number of animals someone has, it is defined by whether or not the caregiver is able to provide for the animals’ basic needs; whether the caregiver is able to recognize the effects of this on themselves, people around them, and the community; whether they continue to collect pets after reaching the point where they are unable to care for all of them; and a denial or minimization of the issues.

Bennett Simonsen, PACC’s Community Programs Manager, said without help, the recidivism rate is almost 100%.

“These pets are very important to the folks in these situations,” Simonsen said. “When you remove these pets all at once or don’t connect the owner with resources for themselves, you do nothing to address the root of the problem. Overwhelmed caregivers need help for the compulsion to care for multiple animals. That’s why we created this Task Force, to help the pets and to help the people who love them, but can’t adequately care for them.”

Simonsen described a common situation at PACC. “We frequently see pet owners who were not intending to collect so many animals but something happened to increase the number of pets they had beyond what they could care for,” he said. “With many of these situations, there was a personal event that caused an emotional trauma for the owner, like a death in the family or an injury. We just want to help.”

If someone is concerned about the number of pets they have, they can call our Pet Support line at 724-PACC to ask about resources available to them. People who would like to donate to the Hoarding Task Force or the Pet Support Center, can make a donation to PACC’s official nonprofit partner, Friends of Pima Animal Care Center.

The shelter is located at 4000 N. Silverbell Rd. Anyone interested in adopted can stop by or take a look at PACC’s website. The adoption price covers a microchip, spay or neuter surgery, and up-to-date vaccinations. There is a $20 licensing fee per dog.