By Jim Willis - [email protected]
The Tiergarten Sanctuary Trust
Almost every week, somewhere in America, an animal
collector/hoarder situation is raided, often requiring the rescue of
hundreds of animals at a time. Often the media, the authorities, and the
rescue community condemns and accuses. We are so accustomed to being
betrayed by our society and government that we have little tolerance for
being betrayed by one of our "own."
The typical collector is most often female. That's not a
sexist criticism on my part, women are frequently the most compassionate
and nurturing of the genders. The typical collector believes that any
life is better than any death.
As many know, I spent much of my adult life in Europe,
with it's no-kill shelters, euthanasia only by veterinarians and only by
lethal injection, their strict licensing, animal control and welfare
laws, and national databases of convicted animal abusers and neglecters.
Should I have ever met a "collector/hoarder" in that environment, I
could have more easily called that person "crazy," while still giving
them credit for somehow eluding the laws and authorities. I would have
questioned their reasons for attempting to break laws and efforts by
government that made good sense.
I cannot do that in North America. We have created a
prevailing system of apathy and ignorance, where shelters and volunteer
rescue efforts cannot possibly stem the tide, where government has
mostly turned its back on animal welfare and control efforts, where
anything "animal" is usually paid lip service and given the lowest
priority, where animals often die horrible deaths, where national animal
organizations can barely fund the resources they provide to "crisis"
situations, and where a lot of people are making a lot of money from
I get a lot of mail each week and often from rescuers
who are out of hope and out of funds. They sometimes describe personal
situations to me that worry me, and they ask me if I have any
suggestions of help for them. I don't and I wish I did. (Occasionally,
I've even received some "contemplating suicide"-type messages that make
me lose sleep.) In fact, I've even angered some Rescue efforts with
criticisms (largely borne of frustration), because their efforts and
websites and fundraisers and other events include NO advocacy and
education components. That means we will always be forced to deal with
the status quo, rescuing animal by animal, with no end in sight (and
where I'm often "wrong" is that's still better than nothing!). For every
"accomplishment" we cheer about, some other situation or decision by
government seems to take us two steps backwards.
I understand how the system in North America creates
animal "collectors." I feel sorry for them. We who think we've got a
handle on the situation, who have learned somehow to say "no," even when
it's hard, and who care enough to ensure that every animal under our
care receives the best of our efforts, are the lucky ones. We managed to
stay upstream. A few threw themselves into the floodwaters and they are
drowning because of their compassion.
If we could get America and Canada to "no kill" as soon
as possible, if we could outlaw every method of "euthanasia" except by
lethal injection (http://www.crean.com/kindness), if we could get every
animal lover in the country to write a letter to an editor on an animal
issue, and demand that our media report on those issues, and hold
government at all levels accountable for, at the least, animal control
and welfare issues - maybe we could stop creating "collectors" and maybe
we could negate the need to rescue hundreds/thousands of poorly cared
for animals at a time who further deplete rescue resources.
Below are some additional resources on the issues.
Please join the advocacy and educational effort as soon as you can.
"Loving Animals to Death," a psychological profile on
Animal Collectors from the Animal Protection Institute:
National Cruelty Investigation Schools:
Go on to ACT Radio -
Animal Concerns of Texas
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