The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 9, 2014

Animal hoarding property draws auction crowd

DRAKESVILLE — A few visitors to what's been called "one of the worst animal hoarding" properties in Iowa history expressed various emotions about the 300 animals found by police. But most visitors there Saturday just wanted a bargain.

Rusty Admire, a Centerville auctioneer, estimates 150 people spent part of their day at 202 N. Washington St. inspecting or bidding on merchandise. Homeowner Roger Blew, out on bail, was there Saturday, assisting the auctioneer by providing details about the next item up for bid: One animal enclosure had a built-in floor and waterer, for example.

In February, authorities raided the property, rescuing about 300 animals. There were around 50 deceased animals as well. Police arrested Blew, 45, and filed multiple charges. No one else appears to have been charged in the case.

But don't be so quick to judge, said Sally VanSkike of Bloomfield. She knows Blew and was extremely unhappy with Blew and his roommate when she heard how the animals had allegedly been living.

But she said she also knows there's more to this situation than meets the eye. She said though Blew has his faults, she has repeatedly seen that when someone needs help, Blew rarely says, "No."

Her husband Todd said on Blew's good days, "he'll give you the shirt off his back."

"I told him he's got to quit helping others so much [because] no one helps him," Sally said.

Still, Todd said while he felt compassion for Blew, he felt terrible for the animals.

"If you're going to have them, you have to take care of them," he said. "I wish he'd stayed with [gathering] antiques — not the animals."

Those antiques — hundreds, perhaps a thousand — were selling even during Todd's conversation. An undated (but possibly late 1800s) small-bore shotgun went for more than $100.

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