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Animal hoarder hospitalized after swallowing soda can tab when questioned

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New River, Ariz. — Complaints from neighbors led Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies to more than 100 animals, including alpaca and zebras, roaming a New River property Monday afternoon.

And the homeowner, who has a history with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, was hospitalized after swallowing a soda can tab while being questioned by deputies, MCSO spokesman Joaquin Enriquez said.

“I can tell you 100 percent this is a hoarding case,” Enriquez said. “This is one of the worst cases we’ve seen.”

The complaints, mostly about odor, had been filed over the past several weeks, culminating with a search warrant served at the home in the 2000 block of W. Desert Hills Estates owned by 61-year-old Andrea Rene Mikkel.

Monday night, Mikkel ripped the aluminum tab from a soft drink can and swallowed it, Enriquez said. She was hospitalized after it became lodged in her throat.

“This attempt at suicide was an act to prevent her from going to jail tonight,” Enriquez said.

He said Mikkel could face a charge for every animal removed from her home. She currently faces misdemeanors, but that could change with the results of examinations by veterinarians.

Deputies seized 15 birds, 16 cats, 11 dogs, a pig, a rabbit, two turkeys, a chicken and rooster, three pigeons, four miniature horses and two horses.

Enriquez said two zebras remained on the property due to their aggressive nature, and deputies were contacting wildlife experts for their removal.

In the past, whenever deputies showed up at the home to investigate hoarding and abuse allegations, Mikkel kicked them off the property.

On Monday, deputies said they saw several violations, obtained a search warrant and took the owner in custody.

Authorities said there’s evidence the menagerie of animals had freely roamed into the house.

“The house is completely covered in feces,” Enriquez said.

The seized animals were taken to a veterinarian for examination and will eventually end up at Tent City and Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s MASH unit for animals, Enriquez said.

He explained that the sheriff’s MASH unit is equipped to handle smaller animals, like dogs and cats.