Up to 1,000 small animals rescued from Vinton home, now in care of local humane society

The investigation started after the homeowner was reported to police, accused of violating city ordinances involving "dangerous and vicious animals" and nuisance abatement.

Animal rescuers pulled hundreds of animals out of a single home in Vinton on Tuesday.

As police launch a criminal investigation, CBS 2 news also learned several children were living inside the home.

Police have not released any more details on the children at this point, but they said the parents are cooperating with the Department of Human Services regarding their welfare.

As for the animals, the Cedar Valley Humane Society is taking caring of them as they wait to seek full custody of the animals and be able to put them up for adoption.

The humane society shared images from inside the home, 607 W 6th St. in Vinton, IA, which show hundreds to nearly 1,000, small animals rescued from abusive conditions.

"I've seen a good number of animal hoarding and neglect situations, but this is by far in the way the worst I’ve seen myself," said Preston Moore, Director of Development & Community Outreach for the Cedar Valley Humane Society.

Moore said this is their largest rescue ever, which included a number of guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, gerbils, and rabbits, hedgehogs, chinchillas, turtles, fish, birds, and a ball python. Many were found malnourished, dehydrated, and living in cramped condition.

"Disgusting, filthy conditions. The smell alone was terrible," said Moore.

The investigation started after the homeowner was reported to police, accused of violating city ordinances involving "dangerous and vicious animals" and nuisance abatement.

Babs Galkowski, the owner of the home, said she did nothing wrong. She said she was rescuing animals found out on the streets and in the cold and caring for them with her children.

"I’m not an animal hoarder," said Galkowski. "I do a lot of animal rescue. I rescue a lot of guinea pigs, and some other small animals."

She said she was sick recently, so she could not give these animals the best care.

"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.

However, police said several dead animals were found scattered throughout the residence "in various states of decomposition or stored in a freezer."

The humane society also said some animals had illegal surgery performed on them.

"The basis of this is that the person who had these animals was performing at home neuter surgery on animals using elastic bands to remove male animal genitalia," said Moore.

Galkowski disagreed saying in part, “Why would i neuter my animals."

For now, the humane society is building a temporary home for these animals at the shelter along with the help of Friends of the Shelter and the Wild Thunder Animal Rescue. They are seeking any donations they can from the public to help take care of these animals.

"They’ll be evaluated over the next couple of days at our shelter with some of the vets we work with, and then we’ll go from there," said Moore.

Galkowski said she is getting a lawyer to fight for custody of the animals.

The Cedar Valley Humane Society is asking for donations of money, small animal cages, small animal bedding and small mammal food to care for the animals.

If you'd like to donate, you can here.

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