By Dean Close, Editor
After testifying on Monday that she had been “overwhelmed” by caring for approximately 150 rescue animals, along with her hundreds of show rabbits and guinea pigs, Barbara Galkowski has petitioned Benton County District Court for a return of all seized animals, including the constrictor snake whose presence led to the search warrant and the removal of all but a handful of animals from the Galkowski home at 607 W. 6th Street on Jan. 16.
Galkowski promised to find a home outside city limits for the snake, which is not allowed within Vinton City Limits. The legal motion also indicated that if the parakeets are returned to her, she planned to return those parakeets to Minnesota as soon as weather and road conditions allow it. She also indicate she plans to “re-home” the rescue animals she had taken in a few weeks before the seizure.
In a court document filed Wednesday afternoon, Galkowski’s lawyer, Raphael Matthew Scheetz III of Cedar Rapids, claims that none of the animals owned by Galkowski’s family meet the legal definition of “threatened.”
“At the conclusion of the dispositional hearing on January 29, 2018, this Honorable Court kept the record open to allow the Respondents to report to the Court as to which animals the Respondents were requesting be returned to Respondents’ custody. The Respondents respectfully request the return of all seized animals. See, Iowa Code Section 717B.4(3) (“If the court determines that an animal is not a threatened animal, the court shall order that the animal be returned to the custody of the responsible party.”).
The legal document divided the seized animals into four categories, show animals, pets, parakeets and rescue animals. Below are the specifics of Galkowski’s request, as filed:
1. Show Animals.
The evidence showed that none of Respondents’ show animals (rabbits, guinea pigs) was a threatened animal. Respondents request the return of all show animals.
The evidence showed that Respondents had several pets seized, specifically one turtle, four birds, one snake, and three lizards. There was no evidence presented that these animals were a threatened animal. Respondents request the return of these animals. Respondents understand that the snake is not allowed within the city limits of Vinton – if returned, the Respondents will immediately transport the snake to a friend who lives outside the city limits of Vinton. In any event, the evidence did not show that any of the Respondents’ pets, including the snake, was a threatened animal.
3. Rescue Animals.
The Respondent requests the return of the rescue animals. The evidence showed the Respondents rescued many animals shortly before the raid upon Respondents’ house. The evidence showed that the animals had been neglected prior to being rescued by Respondents. The evidence showed that Respondents were nursing the rescued animals to better health. The Respondents inform the Court that if the rescue animals are returned to the Respondents, the Respondents will move forward with their previous plans of “re-homing” the animals which are healthy enough to be transferred—that is, the animals will be placed with private homes and petting zoos within two weeks of the return of the animals to Respondents’ custody.
The Respondents request the return of the seized parakeets. The evidence showed that Respondents received the parakeets one day prior to the date of the raid. The Respondents advise the Court that if the parakeets are returned, the Respondents will immediately transport the parakeets to the owner in Minnesota (weather and roads allowing). In any event, the evidence did not show the parakeets were a threatened animal.
In conclusion, Scheetz asked for the return of all of the seized animals with this sentence: WHEREFORE, the Respondents respectfully request this Court (1) determine that none of the seized animals were a threatened animal, pursuant to Iowa Code Section 717B.1(9); and, (2) order the return of all seized animals to the Respondent, pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 717B.4(3).
Among animals which authorities left in the home on Jan. 16 were an emotional support dog and a turtle.
Galkowsi, accompanied by a Vinton police officer, traveled on Tuesday to the Cedar Valley Humane Society in Cedar Rapids, as well was the Wildthunder Wildlife and Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary facility near Independence, for the prupose of identifying the seized animals.
Benton County Attorney David Thompson said he expected a decision from District Judge Patrick Grady soon.