For the First Time Ever, Animal Hoarding is Explained, Addressed and Tackled in Animal Planet's CONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING
- Premiering July 21, Six-part Series Explores the Human Impact and Animal Toll of Animal Hoarding -
SILVER SPRING, Md., July 1 -- Down the street from you, someone with 23 dogs has "rescued" one more. Across the country, a young couple shares their home with 50 felines -- foregoing their three bedrooms to the cats while they sleep on the living room couch. Around the corner, a woman's home is shelter for 28 cats and dogs, a horse, a raccoon, a pig and pond full of fish. These cases and more than 3,500 others reported each year are examples of a condition called animal hoarding. Animal Hoarding is the compulsive need to possess and control animals and often involves someone acquiring a high and unmanageable number of animals. It's unhealthy and deeply unfortunate for the hoarders, their family members and the reported 250,000 pets hoarded annually.
Animal hoarding is a serious and growing problem, and it affects every community in America. In many cases, it goes unrecognized until it becomes a crime... until now. We introduce Animal Planet's CONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING, an unflinchingly honest look at this condition. This series marks the first time animal hoarding is explored as a complex human condition that affects both the animals and the people involved.
"Animal Planet has done many shows in the past that touched on hoarding from the perspective of law enforcement," says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. "But never before have we explored the human side of the equation. There are human and animal victims, both in the house and outside the home, as personal relationships often are sacrificed in the name of unconditional animal love and companionship."
Although animal hoarding is not yet formally recognized as a distinct psychological disorder in the psychiatric diagnostic manual with a set course of treatment, the mental health community is trying to better understand and approach animal hoarding through a human lens. Animal Planet's series is providing a forum where experts in psychology, veterinary health and leading organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States can address and unlock the problem on a national level.
Premiering July 21, at 9 PM, CONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING delves into the hearts and minds of individuals afflicted with this disorder and provides a voice for the family and friends who are determined to prevent their loved ones from spinning further out of control. In each of the six episodes, cameras will enter the homes of men and women � from their early 20s through the retirement years � discovering what it's like for animals and people to live in toxic conditions that result from an unbelievably large menagerie of animals. And, Animal Planet gets to the heart of the matter, exploring the reasons why these individuals turned to hoarding and how their problems spun rapidly out of control.
"While the public recognizes hoarding as a profoundly sad and toxic problem, they often forget there's a rich and complex human aspect to the condition," says Dr. Karen Cassiday, owner and clinical director of the Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center in Chicago. "People who hoard animals are not bad people. In fact, they are often very loving, caring individuals who mistake good intentions with unfortunate actions. The people in CONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING believe that by taking in a large number of dogs, cats, birds, horses and reptiles, they are doing the ultimate good deed � when in fact, their deed is negatively affecting all the people and animals involved."
According to the experts, animal hoarding differs from object hoarding and is the underlying symptom of a much greater psychological issue. For example, if an individual experiences a loss or shift in an important relationship, such as a death of a loved one, a breakup or a sudden empty nest, he/she may acquire animals as a form of substitution and expression of compassion and love. There are a myriad of situations that may trigger a compulsion to hoard, and Animal Planet delves into understanding both the causes and symptoms and then provides these individuals with an expert cadre of support to take healthy steps to work through their problems.
"Compulsive hoarding is now recognized as a seriously debilitating condition. Leading psychologists are now calling for compulsive hoarding to be recognized as a new psychological disorder because this will lead to better recognition, research and treatment," says Dr. Gary Patronek, founder of Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium. "We already recognize many similarities with the compulsive hoarding of objects, but there's one incredibly important difference: animal hoarding involves other living beings � namely animals � that suffer the dire consequences. This can include a multitude of severe physical and mental health problems, such as disease, weight loss, anxiety, fear, frustration, boredom, lack of exercise, among many other issues as well as illness and death."
CONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING brings a surprising range of stories to Animal Planet, showing that there's no such thing as the "typical hoarder." The series gathers stories about women and men of all ages who hoard as well as individuals who hoard beyond typical pets like cats and dogs; some stories include those who have a large number of farm animals, birds and reptiles.
"Each story and situation is unique in its own right," says Kaplan. "The network recognizes the deleterious consequences of animal hoarding for families, friends and animals. Animal hoarders are not bad people, but they do need help. We all want to love and be loved, and the complex nature of hoarding must be approached with understanding, honesty and compassion."
CONFESSIONS: ANIMAL HOARDING is produced for Animal Planet by GRB Entertainment. Executive producers for GRB Entertainment are Gary R. Benz, Michael Branton and Dan Jackson, with Dan Partland as consulting producer. Executive producer for Animal Planet is Melinda Toporoff. Marc Etkind is vice president of development for Animal Planet.
Animal Planet Media (APM), a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the world's only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners access to a centralized online, television and mobile community for immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment, information and enrichment. APM consists of the Animal Planet television network, available in more than 96 million homes in the US; online assets www.animalplanet.com, the ultimate online destination for all things animal; the 24/7 broadband channel, Animal Planet Beyond; Petfinder.com, the #1 pet-related Web property globally that facilitates pet adoption; and other media platforms including a robust Video-on-Demand (VOD) service; mobile content; and merchandising extensions.