NEWS AND COMMENT-SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Is this an example of animal hoarding or just very efficient pet ownership carried out to a high standard but in large numbers? The local authority decided the latter as they’ve allowed Hayley Bramhall, a bikini model, to keep her 54 pets which include two cats, two guinea pigs, 17 birds, nine dogs and 22 rabbits, much to the consternation of her neighbours who have complained vociferously and continuously about her menagerie.
Miss Bramhall says that it her calling to look after animals. She does not have children and her animals are her babies. Her neighbours have made official complaints over three years to the local authority because of the noise which keeps them awake and because there are too many animals on her property. But she has just won a legal battle to keep them on at her home after the neighbours applied for an order to have them removed.
The legal proceedings have exhausted her, she said, and left her crying and crying because she couldn’t give them up. She knew that she was giving her animals a good home as she spends from dawn till dusk looking after them and making sure that they are content.
She states that there has been a neighbour dispute going back before she was keeping animals and she believes that they are jealous of her and her family. She is also a carer for her mother. She is not clear as to why the neighbours are so hostile towards her.
The first animal that she adopted was a Pomeranian dog named Millie, when she was 16 years old. When Millie died, she filled the void of her loss with two more Pomeranians and then a friend interested her in birds and the rest is history!
One of her cats is a Sphynx, hairless cat which she likes to dress up. The pictures show lines of cages for the animals (rabbits) and aviaries for her birds which are in the back garden. As I understand it, the cages are in the basement but they all look tidy and clean and no doubt she does look after the animals very well. It’s just a question of numbers and it appears to me to be an example of high-quality animal hoarding but in a very controlled way.
The point that I’m making is that she indeed does love animals and cares for them well but she can’t stop herself adopting them as it’s a kind of an addiction, which is what animal hoarding is all about because ultimately, it’s about acquiring and keeping any object.
She can keep her animals under a court order with a lengthy list of restrictions including the following (I won’t recite the entire list because it’s too long and I don’t think that you will be interested):
- She cannot adopt any more animals and so the current amount of 54 is the upper limit;
- She can’t keep more than two cats on the premises;
- The aviaries must be constructed under current regulations and be free of rodents and all the food needs to be stored in airtight containers;
- She can’t the rabbits with other rabbits of the opposite gender;
- She cannot keep any other animals of the species that she already has.
In short, the court has put a stop to her desire to adopt more. When the animals inevitably die over time you wonder whether she will adopt more to replace them. She may have learned a lesson. One council member, Stephen Issa, thought that the court order was ridiculous. He described it as ‘outrageous’. He said that if he were her neighbour, he would be concerned as well. His argument is that domestic houses on 500 m² plots are inappropriate for 54 companion animals and he empathises with the neighbours.
SOME PAGES ON CAT HOARDING: