Save Animals From Hoarders and Save Animal Hoarders From Themselves

Target: Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Goal: Advocate for legal interventions specifically tailored to cases of animal hoarding.

When police responded to a Georgia residence, they expected to find a dead body. Complaints had been lodged about an incredibly foul odor coming from the home of Maria Martinez. What authorities discovered when they arrived did little to ease their concerns. Martinez, surrounded by hovering flies, was reportedly throwing dogs out of her window.

Although she refused officers entry to her home at first, Martinez eventually relented after being told a search was needed for a potential dead body. While no corpse was found, the scene inside did look like a horror movie. The living conditions were described in one word: “horrible.” And inside this home were 18 dogs—as well as a rabbit—apparently surrounded by their own excrement.

The animals are now safe and up for adoption, but Martinez has been charged with 19 counts of animal cruelty. Previous instances regarding possible animal hoarding indicate that a traditional criminal approach will not help. Of the nearly 3,500 animal hoarders who are involved in legal complaints each year, the massive majority are only approached once the damage is done to animals and to themselves. Many go on to commit the same offenses time and again. Animal hoarding is a mental illness, but in the legal system of most states it’s treated like any other case of animal abuse or cruelty. Psychiatric intervention is usually not emphasized or even considered.

If this unfortunate legal reality does not change, more animals and more people will suffer. Sign the petition below to urge an amendment to America’s animal cruelty laws specifically relating to hoarding.


Dear Secretary Vilsack,

Every year, over a quarter of a million animals are rescued from deplorable conditions. These animals live in filth, squalor, and in their own excrement. They are often surrounded by the rotting remains of other animals. And tragically, these animals are usually found in the residences of people who sincerely believe they are rescuing and sheltering living beings that they love.

Animal hoarding is a unique and very psychologically complex issue in the legal realm. Should hoarders be placed in the same criminal category as individuals who take pleasure from the intentional harm and torture of animals? Or should psychological counseling be emphasized for the well-being of both animals and people? Only two states in the nation currently have laws on the books that specifically address animal hoarding and that mandate psychiatric intervention.

As the overseer of America’s animal welfare standards, please evaluate and consider a hoarding provision for the Animal Welfare Act.  A more evolved legal approach at the national level can save lives.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Stefan Korner


  1. Is there no oversight for this type of hoarding? Many claim to be shelters but there is no official oversight.

  2. Most states have no regulations over so called hoarders or puppy mills. Those that do don’t follow up and it happens again. Strengthen the laws to include jail time and a hefty fine might just help stop these idiots who take advantage of innocent animals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


932 Signatures

  • Krystin Todd
  • Donald H Tustin
  • Taylor Reese
  • Astrid Van Steen
  • Lisa Norton
  • Sheila Anderson
  • Lynne Cooper
  • Lynne Cooper
  • Lynne Cooper
  • Lynne Cooper
1 of 93123...93
Skip to toolbar