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Hoarding

Author & sole owner of all controversial opinions following: Julie S., Lead Volunteer at Mosh Pit Rescue in Grand Rapids, MI.

Prior to starting Mosh Pit I briefly fostered for another rescue in Grand Rapids and so many things didn’t sit right. Animals were adopted without going to a vet first, sufficient vet care wasn’t being performed in my opinion, animals were being adopted out with no home checks, animals (especially puppies) were being pulled up from out of state and flipped for adoption fees, there was no follow up post adoption support to ensure these animals were happy and thriving, donor money wasn't spent transparently, vaccines came from tractor supply and weren't performed at a vet. None of that seemed right. All I knew about starting a rescue was that I wanted to be the opposite of everything I had seen. I wanted to help local animals here in the Grand Rapids area and I wanted to do it at the absolute highest level, but HOW?

In 2018 I attended an animal shelter conference. One of the sessions was about how to operate a successful home based rescue. I went into that session blank notebook in hand ready to take notes and learn! FINALLY! Someone was going to tell me how to do this whole home based rescue thing! I expected discussion on standards of medical care, basics on how to intro foster pets into foster homes, how to conduct quality adoptions. Instead I left STUNNED that my general take away was “they think the majority of home based rescues are hoarders”.

Was that true? What is hoarding even? Surely someone monitors home based foster rescues? Surely someone from the government would be stepping in if rescues weren’t providing quality vet care? Right?

What I’ve learned through my time with Mosh Pit is no, absolutely nobody and I mean NOBODY is monitoring home based rescues and there are no “industry minimum standards” for vet care. Nobody is making sure animals are spayed/neutered prior to adoption. There no laws or regulations to adhere to. Nobody is giving guidance on how rescues should do adoptions. Nobody is holding rescues accountable for their intake numbers, euthanasias or where donation money is spent. There are no “industry standards” and lots of widely varying opinions on how rescues should humanely morally operate.

How would you define hoarding? It’s not as easy to define hoarding as I once though it to be. There are a lot of shades of grey in this black and white topic.

I personally define hoarding as not providing vet care and mental quality of life to the animals you own. Someone could own one dog, keep it in a cage 24/7, not provide vet care and I would consider them to be a hoarder. A farm could have 20 barn cats all fixed and vetted and I would consider that perfectly fine. I would never define hoarding as “over a specific number of animals”. If someone has 10 cats, but all are healthy, vetted, and the living situation is clean and kept, I’m absolutely fine with that. If someone has 1 cat that isn’t loved, vetted, and treated like family, I would consider that hoarding.

I also consider it hoarding if an owner is unable to or unwilling to afford the pets they have and aren’t at minimum reaching out for help, or, if they add other animals to the home instead of taking care of their existing animals. If an owner can’t afford vet care for the animals they currently have, why are they adding new pets to the home? We have watched owners going through rough times bust their tails off to care for their pets. We have also watched people with plenty of money simply not provide humane care or even sometimes enough food for their pet.

The saying “if you can’t afford a vet you can’t afford a pet” gets thrown around a lot - and there is some hard truth to that statement as far as what defines hoarding.

As far as home based rescue hoarding, there’s a difference between keeping animals in a basement stacked in dirty kennels on top of each other or kennels stacked on top of each other in a not climate controlled garage and what I consider to be proper moral home based rescue. Animals and the areas they are kept in should be clean and cleaned regularly. Animals should be vetted. At Mosh Pit, our foster animals are treated like our own animals. They are loved, exercised, and happy. Our goal is that every MPR pet receives the absolute best vet care available.

  1. Dogs are heartworm tested and if necessary treated via injection (slow kill is outdated and no longer considered good medicine - it is a cheap way out of an expensive problem and should be an immediate indicator as to the kind of vetting a rescue provides).

  2. Dogs are on HW preventative and all fosters are on flea preventative while they are in our foster care.

  3. Cats are FIV/FELV tested prior to adoption.

  4. Home checks are performed. Animals go to the best home for the animal no the first application that pays the adoption fee.

  5. Post adoption support is available including prepaid training where beneficial.

  6. Dogs and Cats are spayed/neutered prior to adoption (unless too old, too young, or if a vet advises against it). If an animal is too young to neuter/spay at adoption (kittens), an appt is prepaid at our expense and follow up is done to make sure the adopter does bring the animal to the appt.

  7. Dogs and Cats are fed quality food and treats while in our care.

  8. Dogs and Cats are UTD on vaccines as advised by our vet.

  9. Dogs and Cats are microchipped prior to adoption and we have discussed the plan to contain the pet with the adopter.

  10. Any future vet concerns are discussed with adopters prior to adoption and all parties involved are clear about what needs to happen post adoption and who will be paying.

  11. Dogs are exercised and all animals kept in clean climate controlled environments.

I have learned so much and come so far in the 3 years we have been operating. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve learned from them, I’ve had opinions and sometimes changed those opinions. I’m sure five years from now, I’ll have learned and changed again.

I can’t control what anyone else does or doesn’t do. All I can control is what Mosh Pit Rescue does and doesn’t do. It’s my hope we’re transparent, honest, moral, and doing the best we can to meet the goals stated in our mission.

#rescuelocal #adoptlocal #dosomething.

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