Animal rescue organizations are rushing to offer assistance as the Vinton Police Department investigates what appears to be a massive animal hoarding situation.
According to a media release from the Vinton Police Department, at 9:10 a.m. on Tuesday members of the City of Vinton’s inspect/code enforcement officer, as well as members of the Vinton Police Department, executed a search warrant at 607 W. 6th Street in Vinton on suspected violations of city ordinances regarding “dangerous and vicious animals” and “nuisance abatement.”
Police say what they found upon entering the home were at least 500, and possibly as many as 1,000 animals, inside the residence and a detached garage in various states of health from ailing to dead. According to the release, the animals on site included rabbits, rats, mice, hedgehogs, chinchillas, turtles, fish, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and a ball python. The release went on to state that “several dead animals were found scattered throughout the residence in various states of decompisition,” with others being stored in a freezer.
Four children were found living at the residence and the parents are “cooperating with the Iowa Department of Human Services” regarding their welfare, according to the release.
The animals were removed from the residence by members from the Cedar Valley Humane Society, Friends of the Shelter, and the Wild Thunder Animal Rescue, according to the release. Veternarians who assessed the condition of the animals determined many of them were malnourished and dehydrated with many of them “living in overcrowded conditions that were heavily contaminated with an excessive amounts of fecal matter,” according to the release. The Cedar Valley Humane Society is accepting donations to assist with the care of the animals rescued from the scene.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing and police say no decision has been made regarding possible criminal charges or civil sanctions, according to the release.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Iowa Department of Human Services assisted with the investigation