Characteristics of persons convicted for offences relating to animal hoarding in New South Wales

20 April 2016

Objective To highlight the characteristics of persons convicted for offences related to animal hoarding in New South Wales, Australia, document the outcomes of cases and compare them with overseas studies. Design Retrospective case series. Methods Records of finalised prosecutions for offences relating to animal hoarding between 2005 and 2011 were examined. Data recorded included: the age of each subject at the first offence, sex, postcode, occupation, living conditions, number of charges, number of prosecutions, title of each charge, number and species of live animals, whether animals needed veterinary attention, the medical conditions that the animals suffered, whether dead animals were on the property, how animals were obtained, veterinary and legal costs accrued and case outcomes. The data were analysed to obtain frequencies and relative frequencies for categorical variables and summary statistics for quantitative variables. Observed frequencies were compared using Chi-square test with the expected frequencies calculated based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics data for NSW. Results The number of persons included was 29. Most were female (72.4%) and 23 were 40–64 years of age at their first offence. Almost one-third identified themselves as breeders, eight as pensioners and four as unemployed. Most resided in inner regional Australia (45%), 28% lived in major cities and 28% lived in outer regional Australia. Dogs were the species hoarded in 80% of cases. Animals requiring veterinary attention were identified in all cases. Dead animals were found on premises in 41.4% of cases. Conclusions Persons prosecuted for charges relating to animal hoarding in NSW have similar characteristics to those of previous studies, although the outcomes may be different. More farm animals and horses were hoarded in NSW and hoarders in NSW were more likely to live in inner regional and outer regional areas (rural areas) than animal hoarders in the USA. Keywords: animal hoarding;animal welfare