THE COLLECTION AGENCY -
Rescuism vs. Rescuing
By the Barbi Twins, Founders, The Kitty Liberation Front
To the animal community,
reading these e-mails about hoarding I could not resist in commenting.
My sis and I are known for our recovery from bulimia, and my mom is a
top therapist for alcoholics and addicts. I have learned to recognize addictive
behavior, not by their symptoms of excess weight or being drunk, but instead by
their character defects: control issues, being a victim, denial, etc.
Hoarding is a mental illness, just like bulimia, and the addiction that
follows hoarding allows us to add the "ism" to rescue. In fact, I recoined the
word hoarding into "rescuism", to force people to view hoarding as mental
addiction and disease. You cannot judge or get angry at someone mentally ill.
However, just as we should not judge a "drunk", you still can stop the drunk
from driving, when it involves other living creatures. I believe this should
hold true with a hoarder and rescuism. Their illness makes them unfit to see
their sickness and unfit to run a shelter with dependent living creatures.
Furthermore, you cannot tell a drunk they are drunk. Telling a mentally ill
person they are a hoarder, will only make them defend themselves or defend other
At one time I felt I could be a potential hoarder,
because I really want to save any animal that comes into my life. Nevertheless,
a true hoarder is no more a savior than a mother who harms her child. Both the
sick mother and the hoarder love to be needed, but that is where the love ends.
I worked at a rescue where I observed hoarders getting high or loaded with the
act of "rescuing", (that I now call rescuism). The hoarders whole life is
defined through just rescuing. But unlike rescuing, these hoarders are actually
sociopaths when it came to caring for the animals. Hoarders are addicted to
chaos and like an abusive relationship, they do not know what a healthy
environment is. Hoarders don't rescue animals, they actually kidnap them, and
hold them hostage in unlivable conditions. This hoarding behavior is examplified
in the old movie, "The Collector", where a man collected butterflies and then
kidnapped a woman, later adding her to his collection. Hoarders want complete
control over a living creature and cannot let go, because just like an
alcoholic, their choices in life stem from fear, NEVER LOVE. Their God-like
complex says that no one but them can take better care of the animal, though the
number of animals they collect are beyond their means. Therefore, the care of
the animal ALWAYS suffers because of this hoarding addiction.
has a 501c animal charity and depends on donations, people have every right to
check to see if any mental illness of hoarding or rescuism is possibly
happening. In fact, I believe it is our duty to check to make sure no shelters
are run by hoarders, because like all illnesses, it will regress and kill
animals if not treated. The first change is a welcome to any rescue for someone
checking on hoarding. I believe this is an epidemic and is the #1 killer of
animals in private shelters, at some level or another. We need to band together
and get involved with the community and stop potential hoarders from running a
shelter, just as we should not have child molestors running summer camps.
Shelters are becoming dumping grounds for poor animals and then havens for the
mentally ill hoarders. Worst of all, I have observed that these hoarders
surround themselves in a cult-like environment. This disease of hoarding thrives
on being worshipped where hoarders seek their 15 minutes of fame from weak
minded groupies. Shame on these enablers. Both the enablers and the hoarders end
up hiding and lying about their animal collection, proving the enablers and
hoarders know right from wrong. Bottom line, the focus of saving the animals is
lost in the obsession of rescuism. Therapists all agree that no one has any
business rescuing when that person is running away from their own problems. That
is co-dependent. Hoarders stop us from finding real solutions for pet over-
population, in fact, they encourage it.
I will dedicate the rest of my
life in stopping hoarders from running shelters that have this mental disease of
rescuism. As a part of my recovery, in a fellowship manner, I will reach out and
help any hoarder who wants my help. I would like to start a 12-step program for
those who confuse rescue with kipnapping, (and taking animals hostage), where
the animals all end up dying in small prison-like cages.
anxious to improve;
Shane & Sia Barbi
The Kitty Liberation
May 31, 2006