PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. — Pima Animal Care Center saw 37 hoarding cases in 2019 where more than 10 animals, from one location, were brought to the shelter. This year, PACC has already seen seven of those types of cases; a high number this early into the year.
"Hoarding as a condition has about 100-percent recidivism rate if we don't do any follow up care. So if we don't help connect that owner with resources to address the core problem that led to the hoarding, there's about a 100 percent chance they're going to end up with that number of pets again," said Bennett Simonsen, the community programs manager at PACC.
Within the seven cases already seen this year, one of those had about 50 animals. In hoarding cases like that, PACC takes on the responsibility of those animals; but the animal care center does understand the former owners need help too.
"We go out there an we may be able to identify that we may know that someone has a mental health issue, or that they need some other form of support, but we're only there for the animals," said Simsonsen.
So putting together this hoarding task force is giving PACC an avenue to connect with other local organizations to find the appropriate resources hoarding pet owner need. Ultimately fixing the problem at the root.
"So we don't want to just go in and focus solely on the animals and leave that person suffering. The animals are suffering and the person is suffering, and we want to help address all of it," said Simonsen.
PACC's hoarding task force has meetings scheduled where several city and county agencies will collaborate to find the best solutions to decrease the number of hoarding cases in Pima County and to provide aide to those pet owners.
- Feb 25 5:30 p.m. at PACC in the community room
- Feb. 26 1:30 p.m. at Abrahams Public Health Center
Simonsen said when someone is a hoarder, the idea of removing any of their pets creates a grief-like response. Going in and removing all of the animals at once will shut the pet owner off from allowing the center to help, but it also creates a burden on the shelter or taking in sometimes dozens of pets at once.
Managed intake is a process in which the center works with the pet owner to find a number they are comfortable with to slowly surrender, while the center is making sure all of the animals have their needs met. However, Simonsen said, managed intake only works when the animals aren't in immediate danger.