The Horse

OCT 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse October 2018 29 individual has a hard time refusing more animals. Julie Wilson, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, of Turner Wilson Equine Consulting LLC, in Stillwater, Minnesota, is a member of the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition and has been involved with animal seizures as an assessing equine veterinarian. She says that in her experience, rescuer hoarders start out with great intentions, then find themselves in trouble. "Some seem to not be able to say 'no' when they have reached their capacity for space and money," she says. These rescuers also tend to believe they're the only ones who can care for their horses. "That's when there might be co-occurring, psychological concerns and perceptual issues in terms of feeling spe- cial or needed by animals," says Schroed- er. "It's not that they are purposely trying to harm animals—in fact, they will tell you they love their animals." Williams says with many of these cases, the individuals will have their animals seized or taken away but go on to acquire more. "Or like the woman that I helped for a while," she says, "when she lost hers she killed herself. She couldn't face life without the animals she had around her." The exploiter hoarder is the most seri- ous type, says Schroeder, tending to have a personality or mental disorder associ- ated with their animal accumulation. "This is a perceptual issue with a complete lack of awareness of reality, where you hear about dead animals on a property and not enough food or health care," she says. The group of researchers behind the HARC describes this individual as one with extreme denial of the situation, a belief that his or her knowledge is supe- rior to all others, and a need to actively acquire and control more animals. Regardless of hoarding type or intent, it can result in compromised horse welfare and contribute to more diffuse issues, such as infectious disease spread among a confined group of horses. "Infectious diseases gain a foothold when there is an inadequate preventive health care program," the HARC team states. "Stress from crowding, poor nutri- tion, untreated medical conditions, and confinement decreases resistance to dis- ease, and crowding and lack of sanitation facilitate a disease's spread." Hoarding as an Illness The exploiter is the most trouble- some type, say our sources, due to the implications to both the horses and humans involved. It's associated with not only animal cruelty but also child and domestic abuse and self-neglect. Wilson says Animal Folks, a Minnesota nonprofit she works with, has developed training programs for veterinarians and law enforcement investigating potential animal cruelty cases; through these it's begun educating investigators to look for the signs of child neglect and domestic violence in hoarding cases. Researchers have also linked hoard- ing to a variety of comorbid (occur- ring together) mental health problems, including personality disorders, mood disorders such as social anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder, attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and, less frequently, obsessive-compulsive disorder, says Schroeder. "It is important to note that less is un- derstood about animal hoarding in par- ticular, as much of the research literature focuses on the hoarding of possessions or objects," she says. The HARC describes this type of hoarding as "a complex behavior that results from a variety of psychological and behavioral deficits that may limit a person's ability to care for themselves or others. Although hoarding may start out as a seemingly benevolent mission to save animals, eventually the needs of the animals become lost to the person's needs for control." While animal hoarding occurs among people of all ages, genders, and financial backgrounds, the typical stereotype, says the HARC, is that of "a single older woman, living alone and socioeconomi- cally disadvantaged." Signs That Something's Wrong Based on the many hoarding and neglect cases discovered over the years, researchers, veterinarians, mental health professionals, and welfare organization personnel have come to recognize the signs. While some are obvious, such as starving, injured, or dead animals, others are subtler and more gradual in onset. "Say your neighbor has horses and used to go pick manure out of the pad- docks once a week. Then it becomes once a month," says Williams. "They're also maybe dividing their paddocks into small- er paddocks so they can bring in more COURTESY DR. JENNIFER WILLIAMS This horse was one of 60 seized from a hoarding situation. They had been conned to stalls for so long, several feet of manure had built up, their hooves were badly overgrown, and they did not have adequate food and water.

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