The animal hoarding cases in Philadelphia have been on the rise this summer and there is a reason for the uptick.
"What once used to be considered kind of an eccentric person who was a collector of animals, people are recognizing it's a real problem," according to Susan Cosby, CEO of the Pennsylvania SPCA.
The PSPCA has responded to four fairly large cases of hoarding since July 12 in Philadelphia, some with exotic animals like alligators, turtles and iguanas. Cosby says TV shows, like A & E's Hoarders, have alerted people to the problem, so more cases are being reported.
University of Pennsylvania Psychiatrist Dr. Mahendra Bhati is studying animal hoarders.
"The interesting thing about people who have hoarding disorders is that they more often than not have other psychiatric disorders," he said. "These are people who cannot tolerate, or are not capable of normal human interaction and as a result, they start to accumulate these animals, which are very reliable companions."
Animal hoarding is not an official medical diagnosis yet, and Dr. Bhati says that is why is studying the disorder. Ideally, his study will lead to "better interventions for these people who are very sick and often times don't respond to conventional treatment," Bhati said. The University of Pennsylvania is recruiting patients to take part in the study. Just call: 215-746-6664 for more information.
Here is a timeline of the July 2011 animal-hoarding cases in Philadelphia:
Animal hoarders hold more than a typical number of companion animals according to the ASPCA, and that hoarders are unable to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care.