So, about this Confessions: Animal Hoarding show. Something I seem to be noticing (besides the fact that family members really need to stop enabling the hoarder a lot sooner) is that the threat of severe fines and jail time never seems to be mentioned when it’s a crazy cat lady or a crazy bird lady. Just if it’s a man. (Not all men on the show have been threatened with this: at season 2 episode 5 I think it’s about 2 out of 4. Small sample size is small.) You know what? These people are uniformly spending their last cent on the animals already. Does anybody actually think some kind of arbitrary fine is going to be an effective deterrent? And jail time? Hello? Is that going to be at all useful? No. No, it’s not. The only useful deterrent is going to be, “If I don’t see conditions improve in 30 days, I’ll be back with a court order to seize 10% of the animals. And then we’ll give you 30 more days to make improvements before we seize another 10% of the original number.”
Crazy people do not belong in jail. They belong in mental institutions. The hoarders on this show are on it in the first place because they have families willing to intervene and go for therapy; though how much of that is being paid for by Discovery itself, I think quite a bit. What about the ones who don’t have anyone to intervene until animal control shows up and starts pressing charges? Jail for them? What good will that do?
I can’t believe the number of spouses and family members that basically put up with their lives being ruined by a hoarder. I mean, why did you not put your foot down 30 cats earlier and say, “No, honey, we cannot have any more cats. I’m not giving any more space in my house or money out of my disability (yes really!) or paycheck to feed more animals. You can keep this new one only if we take one of the older ones to the shelter, or you can take the new one to the shelter. If you don’t choose tomorrow, I’m going to take Fluffy to the shelter myself.” None of this “I talked and begged and pleaded and gave (meaningless) ultimatums” nonsense. You say, “No, this is enough, and you will have to leave if you can’t accept that.” Make the wife who’s putting her cats above her husband see exactly what she’s choosing, before the relationship goes completely down the tubes. (If she refuses to see reason even then, get a lawyer. It won’t cost you any more than the cat food and litter and destroyed health and house will.) The live-in twenty-six-year-old daughter? Quit with the guilt over the thought of leaving Mom to deal with her 80 cats by herself and go live with your cousin until you can find a job and live your own life. (That story did not end well. At the end of the show, Daughter was still enslaved to Mom’s cats.)
Seriously. One person unilaterally brings in an animal? Spouse unilaterally removes an animal. Would cut short the hoarding immediately. Before any animals are abused by being kept in hellish conditions. Start putting your feet down, spouses and children. And make sure to give these people some other meaning in their lives instead of hoarding.
I’m also amazed at the number of crazy animal hoarders who think that it’s better to keep animals in a reeking, unsanitary, unhealthy place where they’re dying of illness or starvation and their corpses rotting under furniture instead of giving them up to the shelter, where they might be humanely euthanized. That’s why I call them crazy. Only the literally insane would do something like that.
These people need to start keeping fish. Oh, I know they won’t, because fish don’t give the “unconditional love” that an abused dog or horde of imprisoned cats will, and like I said last time, screw up their care and they die very easily. But you learn very quickly with fish that nature is red in tooth and claw. Just today I rescued a neon tetra and gave it a chance for a peaceful death – it was dying and had lost the ability to swim. Sunk to the bottom, the poor thing was being poked and prodded by three interested kuhli loaches who weren’t at all concerned that their scavenging had found something not quite dead yet. (In fact, that probably made the tetra more interesting.) Tell me again how terrible euthanizing animals is, again? You know a lot of predators don’t bother waiting for a mortal wound to kill their prey before they start eating, right?