Hoarding situations can be quite traumatic, and whether you are a landlord left with a mess from a tenant or a family member struggling to help someone with hoarding disorder, it’s best to call in professionals to remediate these situations. At Bio-One® Augusta, we offer fast, comprehensive and compassionate hoarding cleaning services.
Clutter Vs. Hoarding
Clutter is something that can be hard to avoid, and with our busy lives, it’s not surprising if a person has a few piles of clutter here and there. It might be a pile of bills that need filing or perhaps a few loads of laundry that need folding or even a few bags of discards you keep meaning to take to a charity shop.
Clutter cleanup can be stressful, but while it’s not uncommon to have a pile papers and perhaps a cluttered closet or two, this isn’t the same as hoarding. With hoarding, you begin to find that piles of clutter begin overtaking all of the common areas of a home as well as the yard and garage.
It might start with a pile of papers on the dining room table, but eventually, there might be piles all over the dining room floor and then piles of junk begin to accumulate in other rooms, often leaving these rooms uninhabitable.
With hoarding, we typically see that most rooms of a home are filled with papers, clothing and other items, and often most rooms are difficult to access. The kitchen, for instance, might be unusable due to items on every surface as well as the floor and inside cupboards. Refrigerators and cupboards often are filled with rotten and expired foods, etc.
What Is Hoarding Disorder?
While excessive clutter can be a sign of mental illness, such as depression, hoarding is a disorder in its own specific category. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is produced by the American Psychiatric Association, was added to the manual’s list of disorders in 2012.
Hoarding is classified as “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.” Additionally, the person who hoards believes the need to save items and suffers from distress when discarding items, including those with no actual value.
This hoarding must cause a significant disruption in the person’s daily life, impairing their ability to engage with others socially or even occupationally. The hoarding also prevents the person from being able to “maintain a safe environment,” for themselves and others.
While hiring us for hoarder cleaning services can be a huge help, the person with hoarding disorder will need additional help from trained professionals. There are psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists that specialize in the treatment of hoarding disorder, and therapy is crucial if long-term success is to be achieved.
Many people with hoarding disorder, also have co-occurring disorders such as depression or anxiety, so these issues also need to be addressed to help a person achieve a healthier, happier life.
Why You Need A Professional Hoarding Cleanup Company
In many cases, we are called in to help by a landlord or family member to help remediate a hoarding situation. There are several good reasons to contact a professional hoarding cleanup service rather than trying to tackle the mess in a hoarder’s home on your own.
1. Hoarding Cleanup Can Be Dangerous
Through the years, we handled many hoarding cleanups, and we know that many dangers are lurking in a home or yard filled with personal items and junk. Often, we encounter dead, decaying animals and animal feces, which can be toxic. Sharp objects, biohazardous material, toxic odors and mold are common, as well.
None of these items should be removed by a typical cleaning service. Hoarding cleaning services are a type of biohazard remediation and you truly need a team of professionals to come, assess the situation, and create a cleanup plan.
We use personal protective equipment, and we ensure that all biohazards are removed from the home and yard. A maid service or house cleaning service generally does not have the protective equipment or special cleaners that a hoarding cleaning service would use, and we don’t simply handle junk removal and surface cleaning. In many cases, carpeting, flooring and even drywall will need to be removed as well as furnishings, as these items all could be contaminated with biohazards.
2. Hoarding Cleanup Is Stressful
For families, hoarding cleanup can be deeply emotional and stressful. Even for a landlord, simply viewing a property in such a state of filth can be traumatic. Obviously, this is a traumatic situation for the person who suffers from hoarding disorder, as well.
While our team strives to provide compassionate services, with a professional crew, we can detach ourselves from the emotional aspect of the cleanup process. It’s much easier for a third party to come in and handle cleanup because we don’t have any emotional attachment to the items or to the person who hoards them.
However, while we are a third-party cleaning company, this doesn’t mean that we don’t understand that this is a highly stressful situation. Our cleaning crews are experienced and respectful and trained specifically to handle these unique situations.
While part of the process is “junk removal,” we truly do understand that these items are not considered to be “junk” by the person who hoards, and we strive to be understanding throughout the entire process.
Our goal is to make hoarder cleanups as easy as possible for our clients and provide them with a fresh start. This can be especially emotional in situations where animal hoarding has occurred, and we do our best to remediate any hazards, but also to provide respectful, supportive services.
3. We Offer Fast Hoarder Cleanup Services
While our services are comprehensive, we always strive to restore a property to safe living conditions as quickly as possible. Our hoarding cleaning services include removal of all excess items, as well as animal hoarding cleanup and gross filth cleaning, as well as deep cleaning after everything has been removed.
Deep cleaning isn’t just cleaning floors and counters. We clean under and behind heavy appliances. We clean inside appliances and cupboards as well as cleaning walls and ceilings and even doorknobs, light switches, trim, etc.
Additionally, we do our best to recover anything of value and restore those items. There may be collectibles and other cherished items that we can clean and restore. Likewise, we will do our best to clean furnishings or household items that can be restored, such as appliances, tables, cabinets, etc. In some cases, items with porous surfaces are best disposed of, but we always do our best to clean everything that we possibly can.
Call Bio-One® 24/7
At Bio-One® Augusta, we provide hoarder cleaning services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Additionally, we can provide 24/7 biohazard cleanup including trauma cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup and much more. We serve the entire Augusta area and surrounding counties, so feel free to call us at (706) 305-5029 at any time.
Animal hoarding occurs in communities across the U.S. and researchers estimate that hoarding accounts for the suffering and death of over 250,000 animals each year. For instance, if you search the news section on Google for “Animal Hoarding” you will find recent stories all over the U.S.
Most recently, we’ve seen:
These dire conditions cause immense suffering for both animals and people, while overwhelming local animal shelters. So how can you help? The first step, is education.
In this post, we’ll answer and provide resources to common animal hoarding questions.
What is considered animal hoarding?
According to the ASPCA, the following criteria are used to define animal hoarding:
What causes animal hoarding?
Often, the behavior of animal hoarding begins after an illness, disability, or difficult life event. In most situations, the owner sees the animals as a major source of love, and they have the best of intentions of caring for their animals. However, overtime they become overwhelmed and unable to make decisions which leads to unintentional neglect or abuse.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) states that hoarders also have an intense emotional attachment to their animals. They avoid the pain of letting go of things that seem very special, even when clutter prevents comfortable living. Like object hoarders, animal hoarders believe that things should be saved for some special event, even if the event never happens. They imagine the wonderful way in which they will heal love, and nurture their pets, while overlooking the terrible effects of having too many of them.
“The sometimes hundreds of dog or cat victims of a single hoarder generally show signs of abuse such as severe malnutrition, untreated medical conditions including open sores, cancers, and advanced dental and eye diseases, and severe psychological distress.” - Animal Legal Defense Fund
Who is most likely to hoard animals?
The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium reviewed the case records of 71 incidents from across the United States and Canada to determine what characterizes a typical animal hoarding case. Of the cases reviewed, here’s what they discovered:
There are also commonalities in the living environment. Often essential utilities and major appliances such as showers, heaters, stoves, toilets, and sinks were not functional. 70% of the homes had fire hazards and 16% of the residences were condemned as unfit for human habitation.
At Bio-One, the circumstances as described in the research findings above are common for our teams. Animal waste can be unsafe when not properly contained and regularly cleaned, as well as human urine and feces. Learn more about Bio-One’s hoarding services.
What happens to animals after they are rescued?
We have taken in dozens and dozens of cats from all over Arizona that have been rescued from hoarders. The lucky ones can be up for adoption within weeks. But for some, they will never be ready for adoption and will live out their days at Ark or we cannot save them because they are just too sick. We have one little tabby that we rescued from a hoarder in Phoenix over a year ago that just last week allowed us to pet her and love her. Sometimes it takes that long. The problem with that is most rescues cannot take a year for an animal to come around. They don't have that kind of space or time. It isn't their fault, it is just how it is. We deal with overpopulation, under-funding and just not enough help. Unfortunately, it’s the animals that suffer.
Bio-One animal hoarding case study
In a 2018 blog post, the Bio-One team in Orlando described circumstances that led their team to remediating an animal hoarding situation:
“Bio-One cleaned out a home in Polk County, Florida, when a Hoarder was discovered by pure coincidence. The Hoarder was to be evicted from the rental property due to nonpayment. The local Sherriff's office came to evict him from the property and this was when the situation of Hoarding was discovered. He had been hoarding many dogs within the home and living in deplorable conditions. Animal Control came out and confiscated the animals. The Hoarder was taken into custody at the moment of discovery. The whole situation was incredibly sad and ultimately could have been avoided...”
How Can You Help?
The most immediate ways to make in impact in your community is to contact your local animal rescue to make a donation or volunteer your time. Also, if you see an animal in distress, contact your local authorities.
If you think someone you know is struggling with animal hoarding, ASPCA.org lists important steps to ensure the animals are quickly helped and the hoarder receives the support they require.