DRAKESVILLE — Dozens of dead animals were laid out in neat rows on the lawn of a house swarming with police and animal rescue personnel Friday.
"As far as dead animals, this is the worst I've ever seen," said Officer Jeff Williams, an Ottumwa Police Department officer assisting at the property.
In what may be among the largest hoarding cases investigated in Iowa, Davis County Sheriff deputies and others executed a search warrant at 202 N. Washington St. in Drakesville Friday morning, the Roger Blew residence.
Chief Deputy Josh Odell said there's no official count of live and dead animals yet, but at press time, he estimated around 200. An animal rescuer said more than 200 animals, approaching 300.
Part of the problem in counting was finding all of the creatures; a police officer using an iron rod as an ice pick was chipping away at ice on the lawn, which had frozen carcasses locked within it.
Lacey Smith, assistant manager of Ottumwa's Heartland Humane Society, was part of the team rescuing animals. She and the shelter manager had only found a dog, a kitten and a cat. The rest of the animals varied from traditional farm animals to more exotic pets.
At some animal neglect scenes, it's the smell that causes the most complaints among rescuers and neighbors. Friday on North Washington Street, it was the sounds that drew comments: The bleating of a sheep, the clucking of chickens and the call of a rooster all came from the street. A steady stream of rescuers came out of the house with cage after cage of creatures.
The sugar gliders, small enough to fit in the palm of a child's hand, made screaming noises as they were rescued from the house. In a kennel, a ferret shared space with a live skunk.