Owner of Hundreds of Animals Seized From Vinton Home Make First Court Appearance

VINTON, Iowa  --  A northeast Iowa woman accused of hoarding hundreds of animals appeared in court for the first time on Monday.

Police seized 500-1,000 animals from a home in Vinton earlier this month. The animals included rabbits, mice, hedgehogs, turtles, fish, and hamsters, among others. Prosecutors say the animals were abused, and during Monday's hearing argued against returning them to their owner.

"There was an instance where there was two rabbits in a cage, one was dead, the other one was consuming its flesh because it had no food or water," said veterinarian Dr. Ennen Leigh.

The animals' owner, Barbara Galkowski, presented pet food receipts trying to prove the animals were cared for and fed. Galkowski also took the stand, saying some of the animals were kept in small cages and moved into the house temporarily to get them out of the cold in the garage. She said the rabbits were only typically kept in small crates when they traveled to shows, and were moved into them shortly before they were removed from the home because her daughter was "concerned they were going to die."

The judge did not issue a ruling on the custody of the animals, which are currently being cared for by area animal shelters. Galkowski is not currently facing any criminal charges.