Animal hoarding occurs when a person houses, and often breeds, more pets than they can reasonably care for. When the authorities or animal rescues step in to intervene in a hoarding situation, they usually find animals living in filth and without proper veterinary care or socialization. Rescuing a dog from a hoarding situation is challenging, but once bad behaviors are addressed can be very rewarding.
Dogs rescued from hoarding situations often have to compete with one another for limited supplies of food, sexual reproduction and claiming territory. Because of this, more docile dogs are often bullied into starvation by more aggressive dogs in the home. Hoarded dogs also have very limited socialization with humans. Both of these are triggers for fearfulness, and cause the dog to be afraid of other animals and people. Fearful dogs do best in homes with adults that have the patience to earn their trust.
Some dogs become aggressive after living in a situation where they had to fight for survival. The dogs who are more aggressive have more access to food in hoarding cases, making them food-aggressive long after being rescued. Some dogs from hoarding cases are too aggressive to safely adopt, as they have become almost feral due to lack of proper socialization. These dogs are typically euthanized. Aggressive dogs are best placed with experienced rescuers or trainers and should not be adopted into family homes.
One of the most common problems that new owners encounter after rescuing a dog from a hoarding case is that the dog never learned to urinate or defecate outdoors. Housebreaking rescued dogs is possible, but it takes time and dedication to break bad habits. Crate-training tends to be the most successful approach to housebreaking dogs that lived in unsanitary conditions.
Many dogs rescued from hoarding cases overcome their behavioral issues and become very loyal companions once properly socialized. Some dogs leave the hoarder's home trusting and friendly. These dogs have the best chance of adoption and successful integration into a family home.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images