Public Safety

Animals being evaluated in Vinton hoarding case

(Submitted photo) Photo submitted by Cedar Valley Humane Society of hoarding situation in Vinton.
(Submitted photo) Photo submitted by Cedar Valley Humane Society of hoarding situation in Vinton.

VINTON — Authorities are assessing the animals seized from a Vinton home before determining whether charges will be appropriate.

“We are waiting on the veterinarians to evaluate and treat the animals,” said Vinton Police Chief Ted Paxton. “At that time, we will be able to give a more accurate count of how many animals were removed from the residence.”

On Tuesday morning, Vinton police and the city’s building inspector and code enforcement officer served a search warrant at 607 W. Sixth St. — the home of Marshall and Barbara Galkowski — so they could search the property in response to possible violations of city ordinances related to “dangerous and vicious animals” and nuisance abatement. What officials found was “an extraordinary number” of animals inside the home and detached garage, according to a city press release.

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Officials said there were 500 to 1,000 animals in the residence, including rabbits, rats, mice, hedgehogs, chinchillas, turtles, fish, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils and a ball python. Authorities also found “several” dead animals scattered throughout the home or stored in a freezer.

The animals were removed from the home by volunteers with the Cedar Valley Humane Society, Friends of the Shelter and the Wild Thunder Animal Rescue. Authorities said a veterinarian determined many of the animals were malnourished, dehydrated and living in overcrowded conditions “heavily contaminated” with feces.

Four children were living at the residence with the Galkowskis. Paxton said the children were healthy, but removed from the home by the Department of Human Services. They have been placed with family members “until DHS is satisfied that the conditions of the residence are safe for the kids,” Paxton said.

The Galkowskis also have 13 horses in Shellsburg, Paxton said. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office checked on those animals and found they had ample food, water and shelter, Paxton said.


Vinton officials were assisted in the investigation by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Iowa DHS.

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