Local veterinarian says animal hoarding is a mental illness


COLLEEN: EARLIER THIS WEEK, WE TOLD YOU ABOUT A CASE WHERE 160 CATS WERE REMOVED FROM A GAHANNA HOME. MIKE: COLUMBUS HUMANE OFFICERS SAY IT’S ONE OF THE WORST CASES OF ANIMAL HOARDING THEY’VE EVER SEEN. SO HOW CAN YOU TELL WHEN A PET OWNER CROSSES THE LINE INTO HOARDING? AND WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? COLLEEN: NBC4’S COURTNEY YUEN SPOKE WITH A VETERINARIAN AND HAS THE ANSWERS. COURTNEY YUEN: “COLUMBUS HUMANE SAYS 160 CATS WERE TAKEN FROM THAT GAHANNA HOME. 55 OF THEM WERE DEAD. THE SURVIVIORS ARE BEING EVALUATED, SOME WITH SERIOUS AND MULTIPLE HEALTH PROBLEMS. VETERANARIAN DR. MICHELLE GONZALEZ TELLS US ANIMAL HOARDING IS A MENTAL ILLNESS AND THERE ARE WAYS THAT YOU CAN HELP.” DR. MICHELLE GONZALEZ, RASCAL ANIMAL HOSPITAL: “PEOPLE DON’T HOARD ANIMALS NECESSARILY JUST BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DO IT. IT’S KIND OF LIKE A COMPULSIVE DISEASE.” THIS IS VIDEO OF ANOTHER HOARDING SITUATION SEPARATE FROM THE ONE IN GAHANNA. DR. MICHELLE GONZALEZ, RASCAL ANIMAL HOSPITAL: “PEOPLE GET EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO THESE ANIMALS. THEY’RE NOT NEGLECTING THEM AND ABUSING THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE TRYING TO CAUSE THEM HARM OR BE MEAN. ON THE CONTRARY, THEY’RE HOARDING THEM BECAUSE THEY LOVE THEM SO MUCH.” SHE SAYS THESE KINDS OF CASES ARE DANGEROUS FOR BOTH THE ANIMALS AND OWNERS. DR. MICHELLE GONZALEZ, RASCAL ANIMAL HOSPITAL: “ESPECIALLY WITH CATS YOU HAVE REALLY HIGH LEVELS OF AMMONIA. THE FECES ALL OVER THE PLACE. IT’S NOT A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR AN INDIVIDUAL, AND IT CAN MAKE PEOPLE VERY SICK.” DR. MICHELLE GONZALEZ, RASCAL ANIMAL HOSPITAL: “WE’RE SEEING CATS FROM HOARDING SITUATIONS THAT ARE EXTREMELY SKINNY. THEY’RE MALNOURISHED, COVERED IN FLEAS, COVERED IN FECES.” 7 DR. GONZALEZ SAYS IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET HOARDERS HELP FROM A MENTAL HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL, OTHERWISE THEY COULD GO RIGHT BACK TO COLLECTING ANIMALS ALL OVER AGAIN. SHE SAYS IT’S IMPORTANT TO REPORT SUSPECTED CASES OF HOARDING TO HUMANE OFFICERS. DR. MICHELLE GONZALEZ, RASCAL ANIMAL HOSPITAL: “THERE ARE SO MANY OF THESE CASES THAT DO NOT GO EXAMINED OR INVESTIGATED BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO SAY SOMETHING, AND GET SOMEBODY IN TROUBLE OR THEY’RE AFRAID TO BE WRONG. IT’S BETTER TO JUST PLAY IT SAFE.” COURTNEY YUEN: “DR. GONZALEZ SAYS OTHER PEOPLE CAN ALSO CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROBLEM OF ANIMAL HOARDING. IF YOU HAVE AN UNWANTED PET, BRING IT TO A SHELTER. DON’T PASS IT OFF TO SOMEONE WHO CAN’T TAKE CARE OF IT, BUT WON’T SAY NO. AT COLUMBUS HUMANE, COURTNEY YUEN, NBC4.”

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