A woman from Vinton, Iowa, asserts she is simply an animal rescuer. But what law enforcement officials saw when they raided the woman’s home on Jan. 16 was a far cry from what one would consider “helping.”
“I’ve seen a good number of animal hoarding and neglect situations,” said Preston Moore, Director of Development & Community Outreach for the Cedar Valley Humane Society. “But this is by far in the way the worst I’ve seen myself.”
The smell of feces and rotting food smacked officers in the face as they entered the home for “suspected violations of city ordinances involving dangerous and vicious animals,” according to KGAN-TV.
Volunteers from the Cedar Valley Humane Society described the situation as “just terrible,” adding that live animals were sharing cages with dead animals.
Vinton Police estimate at least 500 and possibly up to 1,000 animals were being “rescued” inside the home and garage of homeowner Babs Galkowski.
Making matters worse, police found four children also living in the home, among the rotting flesh and feces.
Animal cages were piled on top of one another, and police found dead carcasses in the freezer. Animal welfare volunteers stated some animals appeared to be victims of “DIY surgery.”
On Facebook, the Cedar Valley Humane Society stated they were cooperating with law enforcement to take custody of the animals and provide them with veterinary care.
Most of the rescued animals include birds, small mammals, and reptiles, including “rabbits, rats, mice, hedgehogs, chinchillas, turtles, fish, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and a ball python,” according to KGAN.
According to the Vinton Police Department, a veterinarian visited the residence and determined most of the animals were malnourished and dehydrated. Their living conditions were filthy and overcrowded.
Meanwhile, Galkowski insists she’s done nothing wrong. “I’m not an animal hoarder,” she told CBS 2 news.
“I do a lot of animal rescue,” Galkowski claimed. “I rescue a lot of guinea pigs, and some other small animals.”
Galkowski explained that she’d recently been sick, which is why she was behind on her cleaning.
“It’s not that they’re not getting taken care of. I just need to clean cages and we did have some that passed away,” she said.
Galkowski claims she will be hiring a lawyer to get her animals back. Meanwhile, the Cedar Valley Humane Society is desperate for monetary donations to nurse the animals back to health.
At this time, no formal charges have been made against Galkowski. Hopefully, the animals are feeling better soon, and will be placed in appropriate living spaces moving forward.
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