Public Safety

Adoptions begin after hundreds of animals seized from Vinton home

Birds available in pairs as shelters continue caring for hundreds of pets

Parakeets gather Wednesday in a cage at the Cedar Valley Humane Society in southeast Cedar Rapids. The birds were among over 800 animals seized in January from a Vinton home. The shelter, starting with birds, is beginning the process of adopting out the pets. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Parakeets gather Wednesday in a cage at the Cedar Valley Humane Society in southeast Cedar Rapids. The birds were among over 800 animals seized in January from a Vinton home. The shelter, starting with birds, is beginning the process of adopting out the pets. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Thanks to a flurry of donations, volunteers and veterinarians working for free, rescuers of hundreds of animals seized in January from a Vinton home have begun putting the pets up for adoption — starting with some 75 parakeets, cockatiels and other birds.

The Cedar Valley Humane Society is allowing the birds to be adopted only in pairs, with the parakeets sold for $20 per pair and cockatiels and doves for $50 per pair.

“We’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Preston Moore, director of development and community outreach for Cedar Valley. “We’ve dealt with hoarding situations before, and I thought 30 was a lot.”

On Jan. 16, Vinton police, Benton County sheriff’s authorities and city officials seized more than 800 of Barbara and Marshall Galkowski’s animals over concerns they were being neglected and city ordinances were being violated.

A settlement reached Feb. 26 detailed that the Galkowskis relinquished rights to the other animals, and shelters were permitted to put up the animals for adoption.

About 400 hedgehogs, chinchillas, rats, mice, lizards, snakes and some chickens are housed at the Wildthunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary in Independence.

Tracy Belle, who runs the facility, said some of the animals have since given birth, and she is now caring for over 500.

Cedar Valley Humane Society has taken in the rest of the animals.

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Some animals at each facility had broken limbs that needed immediate attention. Belle said two chinchillas needed amputations, bearded dragons were underweight and one rat had a perforated colon.

Hundreds of guinea pigs, rabbits, cats and other mammals Cedar Valley took in had severe skin conditions and diseases from being kept in dirty environments with little space. Cedar Valley also is spaying and neutering animals before they are adopted.

Each surgery costs hundreds of dollars, Moore said. Many veterinarians, included many from Edgewood Animal Hospital, have volunteered their time.

Inside Cedar Valley Humane Society, parakeets and other birds fill a backroom. Rabbit and guinea pig cages line tabletops and are stacked beneath. Volunteers have logged 1,700 hours of work in 41 days, Moore said. Staff and volunteers spend 10 to 12 hours each day cleaning cages and caring for the animals. Laundry piles up in stacks about 3 feet each day. Guinea pig and rabbit food is consumed at the rate of about 100 pounds a day.

“We were pretty lucky in the fact that most of what we had was donated, but in the last couple of weeks, public attention ... has dried up,” Moore said.

But it’s clear that the pets are wanted.

People from New York to California to Texas have inquired about adoption, Moore said. On Tuesday, a woman drove from Ames to adopt two birds, and more were given new homes Wednesday.

Moore said he hopes to begin adopting out male rabbits and guinea pigs in the next week or two, after they are neutered. The female guinea pigs will need to be held for another month.

“We don’t want to send any pregnant critters home,” Moore said.

Announcements on when these other animals are ready to be adopted will be made on the Cedar Valley Humane Society Facebook page.

Belle said she hopes to begin adoptions soon.

To donate or adopt

• Cedar Valley Humane Society, (319)-362-6288 or cvhumane.org

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• Wildthunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary, (319) 961-3352 or facebook.com/wildthunderwars

• Adoption at Cedar Valley: Fees begin at about $20. Rabbits and cats will be adopted out individually. Birds and guinea pigs will be adopted out in same-sex pairs.

l Comments: (319) 368-8516; makayla.tendall@thegazette.com

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