Earlier this week the residences of Virginia Gambriel, 61, of Pleasant Hope was the scene of an animal rescue by members of law enforcement, humane society and Division of Family Services. At least 317 animals suffering from neglect and malnutrition were removed from the residence. There were also 6 children removed from the home at the time the search warrant was served. The property had several old mobile homes and junk cars that served as shelter for a large number of dogs. Gambriel lived in one of these mobile homes along with 2 grandchildren in which she had custody. Also occupying the same mobile home were around 100 animals according to authorities. Virginia Gambriel was charged with 2 counts of child endangerment with more charges possible.
The children who were removed from the home, were dirty,covered in flea bites,signs of scabies and ringworms were present. The children were breathing dangerous amounts of ammonia and dried feces odor. The conditions in which these children lived in everyday consisted of trash, cages and animal cages and a least one dead animal carcass 6 feet from where Gambriel slept. In one of the children's bedroom there was a small pig in a pen next to the bed and 4 malnourished dogs along with large amounts of feces. Another child's bedroom had cages full of birds, quail, mice and gerbils.
Gambriel obtained custody of two of her grandchildren in 2001 according to www.courts.mo.gov/casenet. Docket information shows that a yearly review was to be conducted and due each year on the 16th of July. The last entry was in 2007. There is no information listed to indicate if a review was actually conducted or by whom.
So now I am suppose to believe that on May 14th, 2008 that authorities just learned for the very first time, ever, that there might be a problem. No neighbors ever complained, the alleged yearly review gave no indication, nobody had the foggiest idea that two children surrounded by 317 starving animals making their way in and out of these old mobile homes,ONE IN WHICH THEY LIVED IN, never threw up a red flag for anybody?
I'm also suppose to believe that if someone did check on these children on July 17,2007 that Gambriel was baking cookies and dusting. And just as soon as those checking on the children left, she started moving in old trailers and people started flooding her with their unwanted animals.
Or maybe it's more like...
Nobody ever checked on those children and chances are neighbors have been complaining about the conditions for years. The court system handed the children over to the next of kin and little if any investigation was done. And even after law enforcement investigated in May, it took 2 1/2 months before anything was done. Was there 2 1/2 months worth of red tape?
These children didn't "fall through the crack," of the system, they were ignored by the system. While there may be several people to blame in this whole disgusting mess, I think it only fair to start at the top with Governor Blunt and work our way down. Missourians have been given example after example of the system that continues to fail children, due in part to cut backs implemented by Governor Blunt. A court system that isn't interested in "family problems," along with mounds of cases that promote tired, burned out caseworkers to either lie or take short cuts.
The court gave Gambriel custody of her two grandchildren. The court system gives custody according to what they deem is in, "the best interest of the child." If this is what they consider a "child's best interest," no wonder child abuse has reached epidemic proportion. If this is how the system works, then...Missouri we have a problem.