The downward spiral at Muddy Paws Dog Rescue started in late 2009 when Diane Eldrup took in two stray dogs, each with a litter ready to be born, according to her estranged husband.
"When I left there, there were 20 puppies. This was the breaking day of me -- when they started getting sick," Kurt Eldrup said Sunday. "My son said only one lived out of the 20."
Until he obtained a court order allowing him to pick up his things on Dec. 15, Kurt Eldrup had not been back to his family's Deer Park house and kennel since October 2009, he said.
"I went in there, got my prints, and lo and behold I found a dead dog in a crate in the laundry room," he said. "I went, 'Oh, my God.' It freaked me out. I grabbed my pictures and just left."
Diane Eldrup was arrested Dec. 17 at the now-shuttered animal shelter, on the 20000 block of North Rand Road, after 20 dogs, three birds and an opossum were found dead inside the property.
Kurt Eldrup said he thought Diane was in over her head with the number of dogs she tried to rescue and was stressed over their proceeding divorce while the former couple struggled to sell their property, which was foreclosed on Dec. 7.
He said his wife called the police on him in October 2009 because of an argument the two had three days after 20 puppies were born in their home.
"I didn't like how things were going. It started snowballing. I started addressing the problems, but you can't burst people's bubbles and tell them what to do," he said. "I'm like, 'You are arresting me, and I'm throwing out dead puppies every day?'"
Eldrup said he called authorities about the kennel situation then.
"The day I got my order of protections, I called DCFS, Illinois animal control, the state. I called everybody," he said. "No one did anything."
Diane Eldrup has been released from jail after Algonquin resident John Breseman posted 10 percent of the $250,000 bond, according to records. She faces 32 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Eldrup said he had been trying to sell their home for the past 10 years, but multiple commercial deals fell through.
"I have two sons. That was their nest egg," he said. "I have been fighting tooth and nail to get this thing sold. I sold all my cars trying to keep this thing afloat, and the property foreclosed on (Dec. 7)."
"Things got bad," he said. "She started this rescue, and things got over her head."
The separated couple's 8-year-old son is now in the custody of his father, but he had been living at the residency attached to the kennel, where trash and feces littered the living area.
He said his seems to be doing OK but is not sure what the boy saw while living inside what the Lake County state's attorney's office described as a "feces-filled, carcass-covered death camp for dogs."
"I'll take him to counseling for this, but I think he's doing all right. Who knows what will happen later on," Kurt Eldrup said.
Diane Eldrup is due back in court on Jan. 11.