Shellsburg man has days to figure out what to do with horses on property

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SHELLSBURG, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- An eastern Iowa man found himself in the middle of a controversy about what to do about the horses living on his property.

Chad Siems lives in Shellsburg. He's taken care of another woman's horses for about the last five months. And that woman, Babs Galkowski, is now the center of a state investigation.

About 1,000 animals were rescued January 16 from Galkowski’s home in Vinton. Authorities say they included rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and birds, some found in what authorities called horrible conditions. Galkowski contends she did nothing wrong. The investigation is ongoing and authorities said criminal charges are possible.

In Shellsburg, the Siems family owns at least six acres of property. It's extra land they thought they could put to use for their community.

"Our girls attended a birthday party this summer and they had horses there. And my wife struck a conversation with Babs about how she needed additional land for the horses,” Chad Siems said.

Chad Siems agreed to let 15 horses live on his property. At the time, he thought he was helping a non-profit that provided therapy horses for veterans and disabled kids. His only condition, Babs Galkowski, the owner, needed special city council permission for her animals to live in town, which was a violation of Shellsburg's code.

"About three months later, her husband was putting posts in. And by the end of August, early September, we had horses,” Siems said.

Siems figured everything was good, until the city sent a violation notice earlier this month. He has until Tuesday to remove the animals, otherwise he’ll face fines. And getting rid of the animals hasn't been easy.

"We can’t legally do anything with the horses."

Siems says Galkowski has been slow to help. And he doesn't own the animals, so Siems has little control over what happens to them.

"We've had so many nonprofits come in, so many people asking if they can help, but our hands are tied."

It's gotten to the point that Seims had to reach out to the Benton County Sheriff for help. Galkowski did remove most of the animals, but five remain.

"You try to get involved in your community but sometimes it just doesn't work out," Seims said.

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