It happens more often than you might think: ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) Agents receive a call about a New York City resident who, like thousands of hoarders nationwide, is housing more animals than she can care for adequately. The Agents arrive at the scene to find that, while the animals involved are at risk, the case is not a criminal one. They also know that, more often than not, criminal charges fail to stop hoarding behavior in the long term.
So what can the ASPCA do? How can we help the animals involved? Enter our Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) program, created to assist HLE Agents with animal hoarding cases and to protect New York City companion animals who are in danger of abuse or neglect.
What is CIA?
CIA aims to help animals at risk for abuse in the care of hoarders. Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel at HLE, conceived of CIA to support and complement the work of our Agents and Investigators, and the program was born in April 2010. CIA collaborates with other ASPCA departments, Adult Protective Services, the New York City Department of Health, other relevant city agencies and family members to help hoarders and their animals get the help they need and stem cases that could become public health concerns. The program provides hoarders with education, financial aid that includes Partners in Caring grants for urgent medical care, and spay/neuter services.
What’s a typical CIA case?
A CIA case may involve a senior citizen suffering from dementia who has multiple cats, has not spayed/neutered them and is not taking proper care of them—the cats may not be getting medical attention or enough food.
How do hoarders become involved in the program?
CIA receives a referral from HLE Agents and then takes over the case. Most hoarders are eager to be part of the program, often seeing the ASPCA as a lifeline and becoming very connected with the CIA team.
What has CIA accomplished so far?
By early 2011, CIA had assisted more than 20 hoarders and nearly 200 animals.
What happens to animals who hoarders surrender to CIA?
Animals surrendered to the CIA program are often transferred to the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital for treatment and re-homed through the ASPCA Adoption Center and various shelter partners whenever possible.
What should people know about hoarders?
Hoarders usually don’t intend to harm their animals. They often care about them deeply but have failed to meet their pets’ needs for psychological reasons.
If you are in New York City and you know someone who you suspect is hoarding animals, call HLE Dispatch at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4450, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in another part of the country, please read our Reporting Cruelty FAQ to find out where to report hoarding in your area.