Republican State Senator Greg Steube of Florida wants to make animal hoarding a crime in the Sunshine State -- and force those found guilty to undergo mental counseling.
"Criminal charges can be an important first step, but psychological counseling is necessary to prevent hoarders from accumulating animals again," said Steube, according to WTXL. "Without mental health counseling, the hoarder is likely to repeat the behavior."
According to the Florida Senate website, animal hoarding is defined as: “Keeping a large number of companion animals in overcrowded conditions; Failing to provide such animals with minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter, and medical care; and Displaying an inability to recognize or understand, demonstrating a reckless disregard for, or refusing to acknowledge the conditions under which the animals are being kept and the impact of such conditions on the well-being of the animals, the person engaged in the act, or other persons.”
The crime will be considered a third-degree felony.
Animal hoarding is sometimes indicative of severe mental illness, according to the Psychiatric Times.
"Hoarders often refuse to admit there's a problem, despite animals in obvious distress and conditions inside the home... In many animal hoarding cases, children are also found living in deplorable conditions," said Don Anthony, Communications Director for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, according to WTXL. "Unfortunately, although there are arrests in animal hoarding cases, treatment orders are uncommon.
According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, animal hoarding is difficult to prevent because there are few state laws to legally counter the behavior.