Animal Hoarding: An Overview of the Issues at the Intersection of Animal Maltreatment and Mental Health

Dr. Gary Patronek, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy

This presentation will showcase an overview of recent developments in animal hoarding, including mental health aspects. We will also cover the implications of laws that require or allow forensic psychological evaluation and/or mental health counseling of offenders. The relation between psychological suffering in animals and the prosecution of hoarding cases will also be discussed.

Key learnings:
1. Animal hoarding is now recognized by the American Psychological
2. Guidelines for forensic mental health evaluation of offenders are being developed.
3. A large body of research demonstrates that maltreatment can cause psychological suffering.  


Dr. Gary Patronek is a veterinary epidemiologist who first encountered animal hoarding in the late 1980s while working as the director of a local SPCA. Subsequently, as the Director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy of what is now the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, he founded the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), an interdisciplinary research group that has written the bulk of the existing scientific literature on animal hoarding. During his years as a Vice President at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, he was a co-editor and one of the authors of the Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters published by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and adopted by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies in 2013. He is also a co-editor and author of several chapters in Animal Maltreatment: Forensic Mental Health Issues and Evaluations, published last year by Oxford University Press. Now semi-retired, Dr. Patronek is an independent consultant, spending his free time cycling, kayaking and doing landscape photography.