TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima Animal Care Center is teaming up with the county’s health department and the Council on Aging to form a Hoarding Task Force.
“There is no good data nationally on how many animal hoarding cases there are,” Bennett Simonsen, community programs manager for PACC, said. “But people who have worked here and at other shelters, anecdotally, do say there does seem to be a higher-than-average rate of hoarding in Pima County.”
Last year, PACC saw 37 cases, compared to the 36 cases in 2018. Just two months into 2020, Simonsen says there have already been 7 hoarding cases, including a seizure of about 50 animals.
“People who are hoarding tend to have mental health issues,” Simonsen said. “If we don’t help them address that core problem that led to it to it in the first place, they’re going to cope with their problem by getting animals again. The recidivism rate is about 100 percent. So, that means about 100 percent of people who have too many animals because of hoarding will end up with that same number of animals again.”
W. Mark Clark, the president and CEO of the Pima Council on Aging, said this is a problem that correlates to age.
“Having too many pets — more pets than you can care for — can be a result of isolation,” Clark said.
The Council on Aging has already started a few programs to help seniors who hold onto too many things, including animals.
“With hoarding, people do think there is an issue of not caring about the animals,” Simonsen said. “But the people that do have this number of animals care very deeply about all of them, they are family, and it feels like a death when we talk about removing the animals.”
The task force will meet for the first time on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at PACC. The goal is to break the cycle by connecting those who suffer from hoarding with services and resources.
There are no laws on how many pets a person can have in Pima County. However, PACC can refuse to adopt animals out to certain homes if they feel the animals needs won’t be met.