SPRING GROVE, Minn. - An investigation of animal cruelty is underway, and the person they're accusing is speaking out.
The Fillmore County Sheriff's Office said they worked with the Animal Humane Society to take 31 animals from a Spring Grove property after it was found they were living in unsanitary and overcrowded cages.
Paula Chounard said these animals weren't her pets, but her daughter's 4-H animals.
"Five chicks, eight ducklings, and 18 rabbits, and people call that hoarding animals," Chounard said, "but for a 4-H'er, that's not hoarding at all."
After receiving multiple complaints, an Animal Humane Society agent visited her property. The Fillmore County Sheriff's Office said the agent contacted Chounard and recommended ways to improve the conditions, and the agent said her response suggested she was unable or unwilling.
While Chounard doesn't see a problem with their living conditions, the agent worked with the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office to get a search warrant to remove the animals.
"We didn't just show up one day, and all of a sudden the action was taken," Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase said. "This investigation started days before the actual day the animals had to be taken, as well as contact with the home owners, the animal owners."
Chounard said she doesn't feel like this case was handled well because she didn't receive several documents until days after officials already took her animals.
She also said authorities didn't give her many options.
"It was either turn over the animals because I have too much stress on my plate," Chounard said. "The other option was turn over the animals because the cages were too small and he never really gave the option of, 'here, let's see what we can do.'"
It's a case that Sheriff Kaase knows can get emotionally-charged.
"Just asking people to recognize that there's more than one side to this," Sheriff Kaase said. "That there's a whole story to this and sometimes you have to wait for that information to come out."
The animals are now quarantined at the Animal Humane Society for care and treatment. Chounard said she does plan to fight for the animals in court.