First Advisor

Rita Sumner

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Community Development and University Honors


Community Development




Compulsive hoarding -- Treatment, Compulsive hoarding -- Prevention, Animal welfare, Obsessive-compulsive disorder




Animal hoarding cases in regard to 501(c)3 nonprofit agencies have been on the rise in recent decades and current intervention strategies are struggling to address this complex social problem. Animal hoarding not only affects the animals being abused, but it has adverse effects on humans and the environment. This paper examines the complexities surrounding animal hoarding, specifically focusing on the rescue hoarder mentality. The current intervention methods used are criminal prosecution, civil/regulatory enforcement, and mental health evaluations/treatments. Criminal prosecution is effective for some animal hoarders, but a lack of laws protecting animals along with animals being viewed as property translates to lenient punishment for offenders; with many judges not taking animal hoarding cases as seriously as cases involving humans. Civil and regulatory intervention methods can be effective for quickly obtaining animals in a hoarding case, however proper enforcement is hindered by the lack of comprehensive regulatory frameworks on the state or city level. Mental health intervention methods are essential for animal hoarding cases, however since animal hoarding is not classified as a mental health illness there is a lack of treatment and follow-up care from health care professional when working on an animal hoarding case. These complexities contribute to an almost 100% recidivism rate among animal hoarders. This paper reports on Best Practices from The Association of Shelter Veterinarians, Best Friends Animal Society, and the ASPCA; along with examining the laws in the only two states to specifically outlaw animal hoarding: Hawaii and Illinois. There are opportunities for improving protections for animals, all focus on a holistic, multidisciplinary approach with suggestions for strengthening anti cruelty statutes, educating professionals on animal hoarding and its effects on animals, humans, and the environment.


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An undergraduate honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in University Honors and Business

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