I heard about a situation in one Connecticut town recently where 60 plus dogs were removed from a hoarder. Dogs of all types were thin, cold, matted and tied in a barn living in their own filth. I couldn't comprehend how someone could oversee such a travesty. Researching my psychology books and the net, I found some interesting, albeit disturbing studies. The following is my understanding of this condition, and I do realize this is simplistic:
Animal Hoarding is a mental illness...Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.), being the primary disease. This type of hoarder often feels as if they are rescuing animals that have no where else to go, hence saving their lives. As long as the animals are alive, this person truly is blind to the substandard conditions that they have constructed. When confronted, animal hoarders can feel despondent. They believe that they have been unjustly prosecuted. It seems that the wiring in their brains- in this particular area- does not allow one plus one to equal two.
O.C.D. is a neurosis that uses thoughts and behaviors as coping mechanism for severe anxiety/panic. If one repeatedly washes their hands, for example, the underlying terrifying feelings are momentarily halted by focusing on this act. One consequently learns that these repetitive behaviors are comforting. Others develop in turn and some struggle with a hundred or so obsessions and compulsions. The O.C.D. sufferers have replaced their internal angst with maladaptive actions.Unlike the animal hoarder however, most realize how purposeless their rituals are. Regardless of this comprehension, they can't seem to stop.
The animal hoarder obsessively collects. Species of all types have found their way into these dysfunctional environments. When an animal is abused, various legal measures are taken as consequences. Generally, the animal hoarder is not fined or arrested as we now understand that this is a horrible illness. Animals are often confiscated and re-homed to appropriate living conditions..thankfully.
So sad for all.