Authorities have arrested the operator of a shuttered Deer Park kennel and animal rescue after discovering 18 dead dogs and six more severely dehydrated and malnourished animals inside her shelter.
Diane Eldrup, 48, was in custody at the Lake County jail Friday on $250,000 bond while facing four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony punishable by a maximum one to three years in prison.
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Kildeer police said Eldrup owned the Muddy Paws Dog Rescue, a rundown ranch building at 20429 N. Rand Road, where officers made the grisly discovery Thursday. She turned herself in to Wauconda police Thursday afternoon and was taken to the jail.
Kildeer Police Chief Lou Rossi said Eldrup's estranged husband first came upon the dead dogs Thursday morning when he went to the facility, also his former home, with a court order allowing him to retrieve some of his belongings. It had been closed for business for about a year, police said.
"I do not know if these animals were previous dogs she had on the premise or if they were strays she had taken in," Rossi said. "To my knowledge these dogs run the gamut. It's not like a puppy mill."
The village of Deer Park contracts with Kildeer for police coverage.
Lake County animal control officers Thursday removed four dogs and two cats all alive from the property and took them to a local animal hospital to be treated for dehydration, county health department spokeswoman Leslie Piotrowski said.
The animals were later moved to the county animal control facility in Mundelein, though one dog, a shepherd mix, remained behind in need of extra care.
"They're very emaciated and dehydrated," Piotrowski said. "It's a long road to recovery, but the prognosis is good."
Investigators have not yet determined how long the dogs had been left without sufficient food or water. There were no signs of decomposition, Rossi said.
Rossi said animal control is scanning any implanted tracking chips to try to learn more about potential owners, adding that he didn't know whether they were boarded animals or strays Eldrup had taken in.
Rossi hasn't been inside the building and no officers who have were available to describe the scene. Piotrowski said she heard the facility was dilapidated and covered in debris.
Rossi didn't know where the deceased animals were located but said five weren't discovered until Friday afternoon. Chief for just three months, he also didn't know if police had been called to the site in the past.
According to its website, Muddy Paws was a no-kill shelter with a mission to "... put an end to the unnecessary deaths of innocent creatures and to help turn Illinois into the first No-Kill State."
The site says the facility fights against puppy mills and helps "find a warm and loving environment for those who do not hold a grudge."
A listed phone number for the shelter was disconnected Friday.
Kildeer Village President Nandia Black said that as the leader of a neighboring community, she was saddened to learn of the situation and hopes the surviving dogs will be reunited with their owners or find new homes.