Friends come to defense of woman investigated for animal abuse

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- The woman at the center of an animal hoarding and abuse investigation involving exotic, wild and domestic animals is out of the hospital, and her friends are coming to her defense.

"She's an animal lover, She's a good person she has really good intentions and I think she just got in over her head," Marcia Sizemore said.

Sizemore is talking about Andrea Mikkel, or Andee, the woman under investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Sizemore has known her for years, the two are part of the Miniature Horse Association of Arizona.  Mikkel is the Vice President.

"I don't think any of her animals were abused or neglected; she just wanted to help the animals and got more and more and more," said Sizemore.

MCSO claims otherwise, saying when they executed a search warrant on her far North Phoenix property they found more than 100 animals living on about an acre.

Zebras, alpacas, sheep and mini-horses were living outside the home in what appeared to be well-kept stalls. But dogs, cats and rabbits were living in deplorable conditions inside.

Photos sent to us by MCSO show just how bad things had gotten inside the home.

Mikkel's friends and acquaintances 3TV talked to said they had no idea what was going on inside the home.

"I was shocked when I saw the pictures, but she was so ashamed she didn't want anybody to know," said JoAnne Souza.

Mikkel, who is a retired Phoenix police officer, was detained for questioning Monday. But in the midst of that, deputies say she attempted suicide and was taken to the hospital.

She was released from the hospital Tuesday but was not home when a 3TV reporter stopped by.

"I just know that she's really upset and beaten down and she's just, she said she screwed up," Souza said.

Her friends say this is a case of a woman trying her best to help, and getting overwhelmed in the process, They say now Mikkel needs help, not criminal charges.

"The clubs going to help her and do what we can to help the situation," said Sizemore.

MCSO says charges will likely stem from this case. In the meantime, they are trying to figure out where all the animals that were seized will end up, including the zebras.

We're told those zebras will most likely end up in the stables at Tent City, once deputies are able to transport them.