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Objective. The objective of this study was to better characterize the problem of hoarding, or pathological collecting, of animals.

Methods. The author summarized data from a convenience sample of 54 case reports from 0 animal control agencies and humane societies across the country.

Results. The majority (76%) of hoarders were female, and 46% were 60 years of age or older. About half of the hoarders lived in single-person households. The animals most frequently involved were cats, dogs, farm animals, and birds. The median number of animals per case was 39, but there were four cases of more than 00 animals in a household. In 80% of cases animals were reportedly found dead or in poor condition. Prevalence estimates extrapolated from these data range from 700 to 2000 U.S. cases annually.

Conclusions. Public health authorities should recognize that animal hoarding may be a sentinel for mental health problems or dementia, which merit serious assessment and prompt intervention. Improved cooperation between humane societies and public health authorities could facilitate the resolution of animal hoarding cases.