Animal Farm of Horrors

Authorities descended on Virginia Gambriel's rural Missouri property Tuesday to find hundreds of animals, many diseased, living in horrifying conditions. This came a week after Gambriel, 61, was charged with child endangerment after six kids, ages 1 to 11, were found on her property during a visit by child-welfare workers. The compound consists of 12 to 15 trailers crawling with cockroaches and stacked floor-to-ceiling with trash, and the only running water comes from garden hoses. "These homes are not fit for anyone to live in," human or animal, Polk County Sheriff Steve Bruce said. Among the neglected animals were more than 70 dogs and more than three dozen cats, plus donkeys, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and exotic fish. There were also 15 to 20 abandoned cars strewn about. The place is home to three families, but it's unclear exactly how many people live there. "We've known for a while they were a little strange, that they didn't want interference from the outside world, but unless we're down there on a call, it's not part of our routine patrol," said Bruce. The raid on Gambriel's 80-acre property came following warnings issued last month. Rather than taking proper care of the animals, Gambriel had begun setting them free to roam wild. The local chapter of the Humane Society called the rescue operation the largest they'd ever undertaken. According to them, Gambriel is a "hoarder," someone who raises animals simply to raise them. According to St. Louis psychotherapist Alec Pollard, typically an animal hoarder goes to court, evokes the judge's pity, and walks away with a warning but no mandated treatment. "Jail is inappropriate for these folks, but to go untreated is not the answer either," said Pollard. None of the animals taken from Gambriel's home are up for adoption yet, but the Humane Society is seeking donations to help pay for their care.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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