Phoenix woman says animals seized from home were not neglected

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
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PHOENIX -- The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office called it a case of animal abuse involving zebras.
   
The suspect is a former Phoenix police officer, but that woman says Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies have it all wrong and she plans to fight the case.

Andrea Mikkel is staying with friends. She said she has an attorney and she is going to fight this. She also said that the animals were not neglected. She said she spent more money on them than herself and she has thousands of dollars in vet bills to prove it.

"I just feel sorry for her," said neighbor Al Caylor. "It's a big challenge for her."

Neighbors in the rural North Phoenix neighborhood are still stunned at what MCSO detectives found inside Mikkel's home -- floors, even beds covered in feces from dogs, cats, rabbits and chickens that were living inside the home, just some of the nearly 60 animals seized earlier this week.

Friends showed up Wednesday to help feed the nearly 50 animals left behind, including dogs, miniature horses, alpacas and zebras, but they didn't want to go on camera, upset with how they say Mikkel has been portrayed by the sheriff's office -- as an animal hoarder who was abusing animals.

But after she allegedly tried to commit suicide while being questioned, friends and neighbors say she needs help.

"I'm thinking that that's very sad and very horrible and I'm sad that it got to that point with her," Caylor said.

MCSO officials said they are still planning on charging Mikkel with misdemeanors involving animal neglect but are waiting for tests to come back on some of the animals to see if they will increase the charges.

On the phone, Mikkel said all of her animals were well taken care of, but neighbors say they witnessed the neglect.

"She's going to have to get some help or treatment," Caylor said. "There's something underlying. She needs to figure out that issue and deal with it and then deal with this."

Mikkel said most of the animals were rescues. She said she rescued the sheep, the goats and the turkeys from the Chandler butcher auction.

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