How to spot a hoarding problem and what you can do to help

PHOENIX - Hoarding goes much deeper than simply wanting to have a lot of animals or a lot of things. ABC15 is Taking Action to help.

"I'm an animal cruelty investigator for the Arizona Humane Society," Tami Murrillo said.

She spends her days going out on hoarding calls to homes filled to the brim with more animals than anyone can take care of.

RELATED: MCSO 80+ animals seized in 2 hoarding cases

"You go out to animals that are sick or injured typically," she said.

But Murillo points out the animals aren't the only ones who need help.

RELATED: Found body leads to discovery of hoarding situation in Wittmann

"What we find is that most individuals have some underlying mental health issues," she said.

Murillo said the hoarding can come from feeling emptiness, needing to fill a void.

"The behavioral health component is so important and getting these individuals some sort of additional therapy or counseling or assistance is imperative," she said.

That's why Murillo teamed up with the Arizona Hoarding Task Force, a group dedicated to helping the bigger picture of the hoarding problem.

"If you're not able to get them that kind of assistance then this is just going to continue happening and you're not going to break the cycle," Murillo said.

Murillo said without counseling or help figuring out what's really going on, it can get progressively worse and, many times, spiral out of control.

"This person can feel very shut down and broken and become suicidal, and they really need some type of behavioral health component in there to get the best assistance and get the most help," she said.

If you know someone in a hoarding situation, experts suggest picturing yourself in their shoes and trying not to judge. They also say to find out what the underlying problem is and not to be afraid to call for professional help.

For more information on the Arizona Hoarding Task Force, you can visit their website.


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