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Killing With Kindness: ARL Takes on Animal Hoarding

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) said hundreds of animals are affected by animal hoarding in Iowa every year.

“You hear about people maybe collecting newspapers, or any number of types of things and unfortunately our concern is when it happens for animals,” ARL Executive Director Tom Colvin said.

This is why the ARL brings Randall Lockwood, Senior Vice President for Anti-Cruelty Special Projects for the ASPCA, to the metro to speak with the public about all kinds of animal mistreatment including dogfighting, domestic abuse and animal hoarding.

“It’s timely for a number of reasons. We’ve had several cases of animal hoarding in the state of Iowa over the last few years, so it’s on the foremost of people’s minds and it’s a process I think a lot of people have questions on and they don’t quite understand what constitutes hoarding, what makes up the thought process of a hoarder,” Colvin said.

Colvin is referring to the abuse in Sandyville where a woman held more than 20 dogs in what police called extremely bad living conditions, as well as thousands of neglected caged animals found in a home in Vinton earlier this year.

The ARL said animal hoarding happens when people or families simply have more animals than they can care for, this can be dozens, hundreds or as we saw in Vinton thousands of animals. The tagline for Tuesday’s event is Killing with Kindness, the ARL says in many cases of animal hoarding, the person thinks they are helping the animals.

“It’s a matter that animals do suffer even when the people are standing there telling you how much they love their animals and how could anybody dare take these animals away from them. What we’re seeing is the devastation it can cause those animals,” Colvin said.

The ARL said many times there are sure signs of animal hoarding, one being isolation. If a friend or neighbor notices someone with many pets becoming more isolated it may be a sign of animal hoarding. And on the opposite end of the spectrum sometimes animal hoarding is enabled by the community.

“They kind of get the reputation as the person you can drop your animal off to so that’s almost an enabling of maybe city officials or local citizenry that basically say 'oh yeah that person will take your cat or that person will take your pet,'” Colvin said.

The event is Tuesday and features an hour long presentation followed by a Q&A.

It is a free event at the ARL Main, Mapes Auditorium at 5452 NE 22nd St., Des Moines, IA from 6:00 P.M. - 7:00 P.M.

More information is available on the ARL website and the ARL Facebook page.