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Title: Professional perspectives on animal hoarding
Author: Burniston, Francesca A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5991 9409
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2016
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Objectives: Although theoretical conceptualisations of animal hoarding have been published, few empirical studies have been conducted. The current study investigated animal hoarding from the perspectives of professionals who come into contact with people who hoard animals through their employment in various capacities, primarily in animal welfare. Design: A qualitative research design was employed using inductive thematic analysis. Methods: Twelve professionals who had experience working in animal hoarding were interviewed. Participants’ professions included: mental health nurse, vet, animal behaviour consultant, animal inspector, animal warden and animal welfare officer. Participants reported working in a diverse range of locations across the UK. Semi-structured interviews were conducted either in person or over the telephone. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim before analysis. Results: Animal hoarding was conceptualised primarily by the presence of multiple animal neglect or suffering. The term ‘animal hoarding’ was used by participants to reflect those who are neglecting animals unintentionally, living in squalor, self-neglecting, experiencing distress or mental health problems, and using animals as a replacement for people. Animal hoarding appears to be maintained or repeated despite interventions from animal professionals, possibly because the human aspects of this issue are currently overlooked. Conclusions: Better understanding and education, particularly on the human aspects of animal hoarding, are needed for both professionals and the public. Joint working and greater communication is needed in both directions between animal professionals and those working in mental health and social services. Practitioner Points • The findings suggest that animal hoarding should be given much greater attention, both clinically and in research, within the field of psychology. • There are social and mental health aspects of animal hoarding which are inadequately addressed by professionals in the UK currently. Animal professionals should be aware of psychological and social issues such as the mental capacity of individuals to make decisions about their animals. Social and psychological interventions should be offered to engage people who are hoarding animals, safeguard people living in animal hoarding situations, address social isolation or support network issues, relieve psychological distress from comorbid mental health problems, increase insight, and instigate behaviour change. • The current study is limited by the representation of only professional perspectives on animal hoarding. The perspectives of animal hoarders and their families are not represented. • There was a majority of animal professionals compared with mental health professionals interviewed in the current study which may have caused a paucity of information on the social and mental health aspects of animal hoarding and professional responses to this.
Supervisor: Simonds, L. M. Sponsor: University of Surrey
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available