Cops who came to investigate the home of six destitute Idaho kids whose mother was arrested for neglect were unprepared for the stench of human and dog feces that greeted them Monday.

During their initial search of the Sandpoint, Idaho, property, detectives found a full bucket in the bathroom that the children were using as an indoor toilet after the home's water was shut off, prosecutor Phil Robinson said.

Robinson said sheriff's deputies were overwhelmed by the smell in the house, which was littered with dog feces and in very poor condition. The cops also recovered five guns and ammunition.

The McGuckin kids attracted national attention last week when they unleashed a pack of dogs on the cops that had come to help them after their mother's arrest. Five of the six children then refused to come out of the ramshackle home for five days, keeping officials at bay with the help of their 27 dogs.

JoAnn McGuckin, 46, was arrested on a felony child neglect charge. A hearing originally scheduled for Tuesday to determine if the children should remain in state custody for the next 30 days or be returned to their mother's care was postponed until Monday morning.

A decision on where the children will live in the long run will be made later. The judge has the options of returning the children to their mother, retaining them in state custody or sending them to live with their mother under regular state scrutiny.

 

On Monday, Judge Barbara Buchanan said she would release Mrs. McGuckin if she agreed to not violate custodial orders involving six of her children and not to contact them without authorization.

McGuckin's lawyer, Bryce Powell, told the judge his client would not accept the conditions.

"My client demands dismissal of the charges and child protection proceedings and an apology," Powell said. "She will not leave the jail at this time."

Robinson has refused to apologize or drop the charge. The state asserts McGuckin failed to provide the children with adequate food and shelter.

The McGuckins lost their home to a county tax sale last September. The current owner has asked authorities to keep the family out, Robinson said.

The children — Kathryn, 16; Benjamin, 15; Mary, 13; James, 11; Frederick, 9; and Jane, 8 — initially feared authorities would split up the family but they have been assured they will be able to stay together.

Their father, Michael McGuckin, died May 12. The family became increasingly reclusive and had money troubles after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His death was attributed to dehydration and malnutrition, complicated by his illness.

Animal control officers on Monday managed to capture four of the released dogs. One officer was bitten in the leg by one of the dogs, which were taken to an animal shelter. The Humane Society will care for the animals and they will not be killed, authorities said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.