Public Safety

Vinton couple in animal neglect case face child endangerment charges

Police: Doctor identified 'multiple infectious diseases' three children in the home could be exposed to

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VINTON — A Vinton couple that had hundreds of animals seized from their home in January now face child endangerment charges.

According to Vinton police criminal complaints, Marshall R. Galkowski, 36; and Barbara D. Galkowski, 38; each face three charges of child endangerment. The charges stem from the same investigation that led to the removal of animals from their home at 607 W. Sixth St. in Vinton. The couple also faces four counts of animal neglect.

Police said that at about 9:09 a.m. Jan. 16, officers served a search warrant at the home in relation to a violation of a city code. Inside the residence, police and other agencies found roughly 700 living and dead animals — including rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, chinchillas and birds — in cages in the home. Officials were also “confronted with a strong smell of ammonia,” police said.

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The animals in the home wer eliving in unsanitary conditions and lacked adequate food and water, court documents state. Those animals were ultimately seized from the home by various animal services agencies.

Police said in court documents that a doctor from a child protective center identified “multiple infectious diseases” the three children in the home could be exposed to by living in the home with the living and dead animals.

At the time the animals were seized from the home, the children were also removed from the home by the Department of Human Services. Vinton Police Chief Ted Paxton told The Gazette the children were placed with family members, “until DHS is satisfied that the conditions of the residence are safe for the kids.” Paxton said in a press reelase on Tuesday that DHS is “continuing to work with the family to ensure the continued care of the involved children.

The Galkowskis initially sought to have the animals returned to them. However, after a court hearing concerning the future of the animals, a settlement was reached in February that saw the Galkowskis relinquish all rights to the animals, making it possible for the Cedar Valley Humane Society to adopt them out. The animals are now being offered for adoption by the Cedar Valley Humane Society in Cedar Rapids and the Wildthunder Wildlife & Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary in Independence.

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Child endangerment is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison. The Galkowskis were arrested this week and later released on their own recognizance. Animal neglect is a simple misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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