(DES MOINES REGISTER) -- The calls came in shortly after Tom Colvin had cleared entire rooms at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa for 353 critters in the latest animal hoarding case. They came from concerned animal lovers, rescue groups and families who wanted a rabbit, mouse or duck, taken from the ramshackle residence of Roger Blew in Drakesville last month.
"But we also had a number of people calling us — people who knew him or had bought from him — that wanted to be clear that this guy is not a hoarder, he's a swapper," Colvin said. "Tomato, to-mah-toe. From our view, it went beyond the ability of this guy to care for the animals."
Blew's arrest has prompted questions about animal hoarding in a state with huge volumes of confined animals, a steady schedule of animal swap meets and numerous online postings from Iowans selling everything from zebras to woodchucks.
Blew, 45, faces 28 charges of animal neglect after a team of law enforcement and animal rescue officials found more than 300 dead or neglected animals, including rats, mice, raccoons, fox, chipmunks, roosters, potbellied pigs, goats, rabbits, skunks and many other species, caged or running around in outbuildings and 6 inches of feces.
They even hauled out a cockatiel, Chilean degus (big rodents with long tails) and a confounding group of cockroaches, not your household variety. First thought to be imported hissing cockroaches, the 2-inch creatures were later labeled dubia cockroaches from Central and South America, often used to feed reptiles, said Ginny Morgal, of Iowa State University's Insect Zoo, which took possession of the crawlers, which she calls "neither pests nor pets."
"He probably saw them on Craigslist. I get stuff off Craigslist all the time, probably once a week," Morgal said.