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Characteristics of 24 cases of animal hoarding in Spain

By P. Calvo, C. Duarte, J. Bowen, A. Bulbena, J. Fatjo

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Animal hoarding is considered to be an under-reported problem, which affects the welfare of both people and animals. Few published studies on animal hoarding are available in the scientific literature, particularly outside North America. The present study was designed to obtain data on animal hoarding in Spain, with a particular focus on animal welfare issues. Data were obtained retrospectively from 24 case reports of animal hoarding involving a total of 1,218 dogs and cats and 27 hoarders. All cases were the result of legal intervention by a Spanish humane society during the period from 2002 to 2011. Hoarders could be characterised as elderly, socially isolated men and women who tended to hoard only one species (dog or cat). Most cases presented a chronic course of more than five years of animal hoarding. The average number of animals per case was 50, with most animals being dogs. In 75% of cases the animals showed indications of poor welfare, including poor body condition, and the presence of wounds, parasitic and infectious illnesses. Amongst the hoarded animals aggression and social fear were the most commonly reported behaviours. To the authors knowledge, this is the first report on animal hoarding in Spain and one of the first in Europe. Further studies are needed to fully elucidate the epidemiology, cross-cultural differences and aetiology of this under-recognised public health and welfare problem. More research might help to find efficient protocols to assist in the resolution and prevention of this kind of problem.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 23
Issue 2
Pages 199-208
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Chair Affinity Foundation Animals and Health, C/ Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003, Barcelona,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Body condition
  5. Canidae
  6. Canine
  7. Carnivores
  8. Case Report
  9. Cats
  10. Characteristics
  11. Developed countries
  12. Dogs
  13. Epidemiology
  14. Etiology
  15. Europe
  16. Health
  17. Humans
  18. Infectious diseases
  19. Interventions
  20. Law and legal issues
  21. Mammals
  22. Mediterranean region
  23. Men
  24. North America
  25. OECD countries
  26. Older adults
  27. pathology
  28. peer-reviewed
  29. prevention
  30. Primates
  31. Public health
  32. Research
  33. Spain
  34. United States of America
  35. vertebrates
  36. Women
  37. Wounds and injuries
  1. peer-reviewed