The welfare of animals is a very important concern in our society, since American families own more pets today than ever before. In fact, according to recent National Pet Owners Survey, 62 percent of American households own a pet, which equates to roughly 72.9 million homes with at least one animal.

Unfortunately, of those pets, somewhere in the order five hundred, will become or are in danger of becoming, involved in one of the many animal hoarding cases reported each year.

At Advanced Bio Treatment, we have handled our fair share of cleaning up the aftermath left in the wake of these heartbreaking situations

Which can leave a house or property devastated, and in many cases, these ‘homes’ are in such a horrid, unsanitary state, caked wall to wall with urine, feces and decomposing remains, that the residence must be quarantined until professional, expertly trained bio hazardous cleaning specialists, like those at ABT, are called in to remediate and decontaminate the space before the health department will allow it to be sold or opened up for habitation.

There have been a variety of definitions for animal hoarding produced over the years, but generally, animal hoarding is indicated by the accumulation of a large number of animals, overwhelming a person’s ability to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, and veterinary care. Typically, failure to acknowledge the deteriorating condition of the animals (including disease, starvation, and even death) and the household environment (severe overcrowding, very unsanitary conditions) is demonstrated.

Similarly, there is typically a failure to recognize the negative effect of the collection on the hoarder’s own health and well-being and on the well-being of any other household members, and even other members of the immediate neighborhood too.

Just like the ‘Cat Lady’ image in today’s culture, some studies suggest that animal hoarders are more likely to be female, elderly, isolated, and on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. Also, most hoarders have been identified with a comorbid mental health condition, such as depression or a panic disorder.

As the group of people likely to be animal hoarders is so diverse, it is also hard to decipher their motives and to put them into distinct groups, but typically, hoarders fall into three groups: overwhelmed caregiver, rescue hoarder, and exploiter hoarder.

The overwhelmed caregiver generally arises out of a dramatic event, such as the loss of a loved one, economic hardship, or a health scare. The individual may already have many animals and cannot take care of them over time, or will choose to take on more animals to mask the pain and to avoid dealing with the situation. Rescue hoarders feel that they have a mission in life to save and protect animals. These individuals are often actively engaged in rescue work, and they may even own a shelter.

Rescue hoarders often believe that they are the only people who can adequately care for their animals, and feel that animals would die without them. These hoarders have a strong need for control, and do feel in control of the situation despite the problems that exist. The exploiter hoarders generally lack empathy for people and animals and are indifferent to the harm they cause. Their main concern is to be in control.

Exploiter hoarders do not feel a strong attachment to their animals, unlike the other two hoarder categories, rather, their hoarding behaviors are motivated by a need for control. They have a strong need to feel dominant and to be the expert. Hoarding animals is the outlet they have found to meet all of their needs.

It is this type of hoarder that ABT has found can cause the most damage to not only their own home and family, not to mention the animals, but also may affect the health of the people and pets in surrounding homes.

Animal hoarding does not happen overnight. It is a behavior that develops over time, and people continue this behavior because it serves a role for them. The function hoarding serves is typically related to regulating emotional needs, and very likely involves other mental health problems.

Most hoarders do not recognize their behavior as irregular. However, the hoarders who do recognize their behaviors as atypical, the overwhelmed caregivers, will hide their behavior out of shame and fear of possible consequences. Other hoarders may choose to hide their behavior, even though they don’t recognize their hoarding is dangerous or different.

This can lead to quite the shock for a homeowner who may have been unknowingly renting their property out to one of these individuals, only discovering the destruction of their home after the tenant has left or the state becomes involved. By this point, it’s imperative, due to the hazardous substances present at these scenes, to call the professionals at ABT to safely and effectively restore your property and your peace of mind.

At a residence that has been a victim of its own from the hoard, personal belongings become mixed with garbage and waste until living areas are unsanitary. Rooms become unusable as a result of animal hoarding, because the animals may roam about contributing feces, urine and even decomposing remains of animals that succumbed to the conditions, increasing the chance of bio hazardous conditions which can pose significant risks to human and animal alike.

Advance Bio Treatment is available 24/7

Our professional clean up team can eliminate biohazards and restore kitchens, bathrooms, apartments, or even entire homes back to their original condition. Especially when compulsive hoarding involves animal feces, human feces, waste removal and decomposition, it is impossible to estimate how many biohazards could be involved. Advanced Bio Treatment is certified by multiple agencies to provide professional sanitation.

We use the most modern products and techniques to remove the odor at its source, on the molecular level, so that you can reclaim the use of your property. Our urine and feces cleaning products will attack the urine, feces or other contaminates, and render them safe. We remove all traces of the urine, feces and odor problem and can even deal with the airborne infectious material that may be present as a result of birds, pets, other pests or rodents and contagious disease.

The stench that comes from these homes, is unbelievable. Odor removal can be difficult or almost impossible, unless a trained specialist performs the process of odor removal. Advanced Bio Treatment is IICRC odor tech certified.  So you are guaranteed the most up to date knowledge on odor removal. We will even break down the smell on the molecular level, so you can rest easy knowing that we have you covered.

One of our more recent cases of animal hoarding took place earlier this year just outside of Birmingham, AL. It involved a middle aged woman who was found to be living with 26 Cocker Spaniels in a two bedroom apartment that she was leasing from the man who would later become our client and good friend.

Apparently, authorities were tipped off by a pizza delivery driver who accidentally took a hot pie to the wrong apartment, thus making the discovery of the dogs and the terrible living conditions inside the home.

It took us nearly 5 days to thoroughly restore this property, and involved the removal and replacement of every bit of flooring and drywall in the home. It was that completely saturated with feces and urine.

We also had to break out our big guns, both our ozone machine, which breaks down odors on a molecular level, and our Halo Fogger, which allows us to sanitize every surface in the home using a ultra fine mist of hospital grade hydrogen peroxide.

In the end, you would never have known that it was the same place… my hands still hurt from the force of the handshake our immensely relieved and extremely grateful client gave me when I turned his keys back over. So remember, you are not alone, we are here to help get you past this.

If you need scene cleanup and decontamination guidance, have questions about your payment options, which clean up and decon procedures your current insurance policy covers or require our scene cleanup services immediately, don’t hesitate to give Advanced Bio Treatment a call at  800-295-1684.

Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment