There is no doubting that once you get your first pup, stopping at one is nearly impossible. Dogs are social animals and sometimes they need other dogs to hang out with who get them. It is perfectly natural and even healthy for dogs to be part of a larger family, and most happy dog parents are proud to own more than one or two dogs, especially after reveling in the joys of their first one.
However, as illustrated by a recent situation in Ohio, it is possible to hoard dogs in an unhealthy way; a way that is unhealthy for the owner and, most importantly, the dogs themselves.
The story starts, as many things do, with good intentions. In a town not far from Cincinnati a couple began to take in stray dogs to make sure they had a home. A noble and charitable endeavor to be sure, but one that soon got out of hand.
When the couple finally decided to surrender the animals to rescuers they had over 200 hundred dogs living on their property. It doesn’t take a ton of imagination to know that if a shelter with multiple staff working 24/7 can have a tough time taking care of a hundred dogs that two people taking care of 200 is a non-starter.
Most were smaller dogs that were kept in tiny cages and kennels over extended periods of time. Many were kept outside in icy weather. When the couple finally saw that the situation was out of control and called the authorities the rescuers that came said that this was a, “A home and property literally as bad as we’ve ever done.”
We’re glad that all the pups got to a better place before it was too late, and that the couple in question saw that it was best to give them up. It is unlikely they will face criminal charges since they surrendered them voluntarily. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s fair. The pups, to some degree, may have been lucky that the couple rescued them initially.
But this is also a cautionary tale. It may seem like a one-off aberration, but this sort of thing is unfortunately more common than anyone would like it to be. So much so that the ASPCA has identified this issue, and says that over a quarter-million animals find themselves in animal hoarding situations. An infamous example of this is Joe Exotic from the Netflix series Tiger King.
Hoarders are not out to hurt the animals to be sure, but their compulsion to collect and hold on to things poses a danger to the animals they seek to save. So be on the lookout for any hoarding behavior in your friends and neighbors, and make sure to be self-reflective enough to see it in yourself. It’s one thing to want to save every animal in the world, but it’s important to have the humility to recognize that you yourself alone just can’t and that this is okay.
Lastly, if you’re in the Cincinnati area and are able, please adopt one of the pups recently rescued.