Public Safety

Vinton couple who kept hundreds of animals in home on now probation after guilty plea

Both plead to child endangerment, animal neglect charges

(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.
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A Vinton couple found to have hundreds of animals — some of them dead — in their house along with three kids are serving probation after pleading guilty to child endangerment and animal neglect counts, court records show.

Marshall R. Galkowski and Barbara D. Galkowski each pleaded guilty last month to three counts of child endangerment without injury, an aggravated misdemeanor, and four counts of animal neglect, a simple misdemeanor.

They were assessed $65 fines for each of the animal neglect charges and placed on two years of probation and fined a total of $625 each for the child endangerment charges.

As a condition of their deferred judgment, they must participate in parent-child and mental health evaluations and allow state child care workers or law officers in their home without notice to check for compliance, records show.

Additionally, the court set rules on what pets they could have: a dog, a fish, two cats and up to an additional six small animals in properly maintained cages inside the house. For pets outside, a judge set no limits but said animals must be kept in compliance with local and state codes.

Last January, a utility worker tipped off authorities to “a number of animals and an illegal snake” at 607 W. Sixth St. in Vinton. Police then served a search warrant to check for violations.

Inside the home, police and other agencies found roughly 700 living and dead animals — including rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, chinchillas and birds — in cages. Officers said they were “confronted with a strong smell of ammonia.”

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Those animals ultimately were seized by animal services agencies, and many of them went up for adoption.

At the time the animals were seized, three children — who were being home-schooled — were removed by the Iowa Department of Human Services and placed with relatives.

Records showed a doctor from a child protective center identified “multiple infectious diseases” the Galkowskis’ children could have been exposed to while living in the home with the living and dead animals.

In addition to having to pay fines, the Galkowskis are being assessed a monthly fee to help pay for the cost of retrieving the animals. They have the option, though, of performing community service.

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