Despite the fact that Hoarding Disorder is now considered its own mental illness, many hoarders are still not given the proper help, treatment, or care that they deserve. Animal hoarders tend to be among the most tragic of cases, as they are often misunderstood and their hoarding has the potential to turn into big legal trouble if it gets too out of hand. While many cases of animal hoarding end in tragedy, often resulting in the hoarder being arrested for animal abuse, we were pleased to hear of one story that ended in a court order for psychological treatment instead.
At Hoarders911, we have always believed in and stressed the importance of educating people on what hoarding is, and helping hoarders recover rather than passing judgement or punishing them for their disorder. Although this case did end up with a small jail sentence, we believe that the Manukau District Court’s decision to mandate psychological treatment during the sentence was a step in the right direction.
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Animal Hoarding Case Leads to Treatment
There should be more research into mental illness and animal abuse, the SPCA says, after the first psychological treatment sentence was passed for animal hoarding.
Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly
Five cats were found locked in Martine Genet's car, without food or water, in 2014. Two cats, two turkeys, six chickens and a peacock were also found living in filthy conditions without food or water in 2013.
The Manukau District Court sentenced her on 8 December to intensive supervision for two years, including undergoing psychological assessment and treatment. She was also disqualified from owning pets for 10 years.
SPCA chief executive Andrea Midgen said mental illness featured in many of the more extreme hoarding, cruelty and neglect cases.
"In the case of hoarders they can't see that environment that they have around them - you know, with all the mess and the faeces - they just don't see that, they just have their love for the animal.
"People don't understand that that's not acceptable behaviour. And maybe that's something that needs to be examined and looked at, and helped."
She said the judiciary needed to continue addressing psychological issues appropriately to avoid further offending.