The stereotype of the crazy cat lady has some truth to it.
You know the character: The person who is struggling with trauma or mental illness, and has more animals than he or she could possibly provide for. Unneutered and confined to the house, the hoard multiplies quickly. The animals get sick, some die.
Reports of people hoarding animals are on the rise, driven partly by the attention social media and reality TV programs have focused on the public health and safety problem. And states and localities are finding themselves walking a fine line between criminalizing the compulsive behavior and helping people with the mental illness that underlies it.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates there are between 2,000 and 5,000 new hoarding cases reported each year, with up to 250,000 animals involved. The average number of animals involved in a case is 50, the ASPCA said, though it also has seen instances in which more than a thousand animals were hoarded.