PHOTOS: "There were dead animals in cages with living animals;" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

PHOTOS: "There were dead animals in cages with living animals;" Close to 1,000 animals rescued from Vinton home

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VINTON (KWWL) -

UPDATE: Multiple animal shelters are assisting the Cedar Valley Humane Society with what organizers are calling one of the largest animal rescue situations in Eastern Iowa.

Vinton Police say an estimated 500 to 1000 animals were taken from a home in the 600 block of West 6th Street, following a city code inspection early Tuesday morning.

Four young children ranging in age from five to fourteen are also involved in the investigation. Police say they were living in the home with the hundreds of animals.

It took dozens of volunteers more than eight hours to remove crate after crate of rabbits, birds, reptiles and other small animals from the home.

Vinton Police say they found an enormous number of guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, mice, and even a python.

Outside the home, KWWL saw several cages near the garage that appeared to have dead rabbits in them.

The Cedar Valley Humane Society says the animals inside the home were living in unsanitary and crowded conditions.

"The entire basement of this house was full of animals. There were dead animals in cages with living animals. There were very few of the cages that had clean food or water at all," said Preston Moore of the Cedar Valley Humane Society.

The humane society says the owner was performing do-it-yourself surgeries on the animals, as well.

 "A lot of the DIY was neuter surgeries, so it involves elastic bands on animal testicles," said Moore.

But owner Barbara Galkowski told KWWL her animals are well cared for and recent situations, including subzero temperatures, loss of heat to the house for a time, and her being sick led to the current state of the home.   

"I do run a guinea pig rescue program. I just brought in over 200 guinea pigs, which is a lot of what they are freaking out about; me trying to juggle all these animals, trying to find them homes, and get a lot of them medical treatment. A lot of them came in with ringworm and URIs (Upper Respiratory Infections), so I have been treating those with the meds my vet gives me," said Galkowski.

Galkowski shared photos of her kids showing their rabbits and guinea pigs at local and national shows with KWWL.

"My daughter with autism, they said she would never speak, she would never talk, she would never walk. She started showing animals and she started talking to the judges. She walks. She is thriving in the world. Those are her kids," said Galkowski.

 Vinton Police says the Department of Human Services is involved in this investigation and Galkowski is cooperating.

Galkowski told KWWL the children are now staying with a family friend.

Currently, the animal shelters have temporary custody of the animals. The Cedar Valley Humane Society is asking for donations to cover the cost of medical treatment for the many animals.

Vinton Police say the situation remains under investigation, and no decision has been made about possible criminal or civil charges.    

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UPDATE: The Vinton Police Department says four children were living at a home currently being investigated for keeping more than 500 animals inside the residence. Officers say the parents are fully cooperating with the Iowa Department of Human Services at this time.

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Original Story:

The Cedar Valley Humane Society is currently dealing with a "massive animal rescue case." The case involves hundreds of animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, mice, and rats. 

According to the Cedar Valley Humane Society's Facebook page, "dead animals in cages with living ones. Rotting food. Animals with 'DIY surgery' in progress. Hundreds (potentially thousands by the time everything is counted) of animals in a small, enclosed space."

The shelter is looking for several donations of small animal cages, bedding and food.

 This is a developing story and KWWL is on the scene. We will update this as soon as we know more information. . 

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