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July 14, 2010

Animal Planet's "Confessions: Animal Hoarding" Gets to the Heart of an Out-of-Control Problem

Premiering July 21 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Animal hoarding is a serious and growing problem, and it affects an estimated 250,000 animals annually and every community in America. In many cases, it goes unrecognized until it becomes a crime … until now.  Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding takes an unflinchingly honest look at this condition. This six-part series marks the first time animal hoarding is explored as a complex human condition that affects both the animals and the people involved.

Premiering July 21, at 9 p.m. E/P, Confessions: Animal Hoarding delves into the hearts and minds of individuals afflicted with this disorder and provides a voice for the family and friends who are determined to prevent their loved ones from spinning further out of control. In each of the six episodes, cameras will enter the homes of men and women—from their early 20s through the retirement years—discovering what it's like for animals and people to live in toxic conditions that result from an unbelievably large menagerie of animals.  Highlighting the rescue work of The Humane Society of the United States in selected cases, this groundbreaking Animal Planet series gets to the heart of the matter, exploring the reasons why these individuals turned to hoarding and how their problems spun rapidly out of control.

"Compulsive hoarding is now recognized as a seriously debilitating condition. Leading psychologists are now calling for compulsive hoarding to be recognized as a new psychological disorder because this will lead to better recognition, research and treatment," says Dr. Gary Patronek, founder of Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium. "We already recognize many similarities with the compulsive hoarding of objects, but there's one incredibly important difference: animal hoarding involves other living beings—namely animals—that suffer the dire consequences. This can include a multitude of severe physical and mental health problems, such as disease, weight loss, anxiety, fear, frustration, boredom, lack of exercise, among many other issues as well as illness and death."

Confessions: Animal Hoarding spotlights a surprising range of stories, revealing that there's no such thing as the "typical hoarder." The series gathers stories about women and men of all ages who hoard as well as individuals who hoard beyond typical pets like cats and dogs; some stories include those who have a large number of farm animals, birds and reptiles.

"Animal Planet has done many shows in the past that touched on hoarding from the perspective of law enforcement," says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. "But never before have we explored the human side of the equation. There are human and animal victims, both in the house and outside the home, as personal relationships often are sacrificed in the name of unconditional animal love and companionship."

Click here to RSVP for the Facebook event.

For more on this subject, read "Rescued from Squalor," from All Animals magazine, July/August 2010. 

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