Animal hoarding is both a human and animal health issue that takes toll on rescue agencies

Animal Control Officer

An animal control officer preparing to rescue cats from a hoarding situation.

This past weekend, my sister Laura “adopted” a kitten who had been found outdoors. As she was searching for the perfect name, I was happy to help with some ideas appropriate to the season. Rudy was rejected, since it sounds too much like Rooney, her dog’s name. Nick, Frosty and Jingle didn’t seem to fit either. My niece came up with the winner: Dash, short for Dasher.

Recently, I have had quite a bit of practice with naming cats. Last week, our animal control officers rescued more than 50 cats from a hoarding situation. Each cat has been given a holiday-inspired name to mark their new beginning.

Hoarding can be devastating for the people and animals involved.

When our Animal Control Officers first arrived at the house, the conditions they found were, sadly, typical of this type of situation. Piles of empty cat food cans stacked up on the ground, trash and filth-covered surfaces, and cats in every nook and cranny visible to the naked eye. The smell of ammonia was so overpowering that the officers struggled to breathe.

Over the next two days, suited up with respirators and PPE, our team methodically searched the house, carefully removing every cat they found.

The next phase of rescue began back at the shelter. Cats in need of urgent medical care were immediately seen by one of our veterinarians. Meanwhile, the rest of the cats were set up in clean kennels with fresh bedding, food and water to await their vet exams.

Surprisingly, most of the cats appear to be in relatively good shape considering the circumstances in which they were found. Many are suffering from upper respiratory and ear infections, which is quite common when too many cats are housed together, especially in unsanitary conditions. All the cats are now being treated and are expected to make a full recovery.

It seems like a true miracle that we rescued these cats just in time for the holidays and before they became more seriously ill. Now that they are safe and cared for, my wish is for all of them to find a warm and loving home.

If you are considering adopting a cat, please check out the shelter near you.

And please visit our Pasadena Humane website where you’ll see Merry, Jolly and more! The festive felines will also be available for adoption at our “Whisker Wonderland” cat and kitten adoption event this Saturday, December 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We are offering a reduced adoption fee of $50 for all cats over 6 months old during the event, a 50% savings over our regular fee.

Caring for animals rescued from hoarding cases takes a tremendous amount of time and resources. We couldn’t do this hard work without the support of our generous, animal-loving community.

If you think someone you know is struggling with animal hoarding, please contact Pasadena Humane. A phone call may be the first step in the long process of getting people and animals who suffer as a result of hoarding the help they need.

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.