After a Florida hoarder passed away on Friday, Miami-Dade County Animal Services found 51 dogs in his Hialeah home.
The man, who was not identified, died of natural causes. His family told police that he loved animals and would pick up stray dogs if he came across one on the street.
His elderly parents were also living in the home. Authorities say both parents suffer from dementia. They were taken to Palmetto General Hospital for further evaluation.
Animal services says they plan to put the 51 small to medium sized dogs up for adoption.
A group of Spanish researchers published a study in May that found the average animal hoarder keeps at least 50 pets in their home.
Animal hoarding is a growing problem in Europe. Researchers say there is not enough data on animal hoarding, despite the large-scale negative effects it has on both human and animal health.
"This is the first step towards public recognition of this disorder, a disorder that constitutes a growing concern for government as it is becoming a serious problem for public health. There are still no standardized action protocols for intervention in these cases," researcher Paula Calvo, of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute in Barcelona, said in a statement addressing the recent study.
The Humane Society of the United States also believes that animal hoarding is a mental illness, which could be connected to other mental health conditions.
"Although what causes animal hoarding is still poorly understood, there is a general consensus that animal hoarding is a symptom of psychological and neurological malfunctioning, which might involve dementia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder," it says on its website. "Treatment is difficult and has a low rate of success. Typically a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and some type of psychopharmacological intervention is recommended."