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Animal hoarding, a lesser-known problem for public health and welfare
Date:5/5/2014

Animal hoarding is a psychiatric disorder that consists of accumulating large numbers of animals at home, usually cats and dogs, without providing them with a minimal standard of care. Researchers from IMIM (Hospital del Mar Research Institute) publish the first European study to provide data on this disorder, in the Journal Animal Welfare. The disorder is still largely unknown and has a negative effect on the health of both the people who suffer from it and the animals involved.

"This is the first step towards public recognition of this disorder, a disorder that constitutes a growing concern for government as it is becoming a serious problem for public health. There are still no standardised action protocols for intervention in these cases" states Paula Calvo, a researcher of the IMIM research group on anxiety, affective disorders and schizophrenia and of the "Ctedra Fundacin Affinity Animales y Salud" (Affinity Foundation Chair for Animals and Health) of the Department of Psychiatry of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Currently, when a case is detected, the animals are removed but no attention is given to the person suffering the disorder. This person does not realise that his or her animals are in poor health and soon begins to hoard them again. Sometimes these animals are found at obvious and critical levels of malnutrition, dehydration and parasitic infestation, with illnesses or uncontrolled breeding, all in a very unhygienic space.

The researchers believe that this disorder has implications for mental health, animal welfare and public health and therefore that recognising its presence in our society is the first step in identifying and detecting cases early and dealing with them in the most efficient possible way. As different sectors must mobilise when a case appears, such as animal protection, public health, public welfare, etc, the group works in conjunction with government, creating multidisciplinary action protocols.

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Contact: Marta Calsina
mcalsina@imim.es
34-933-160-680
IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute)
Source:Eurekalert

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