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updated: 10/4/2012 6:00 PM

Attorney: Accused Elgin hoarder never hurt animals

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A 60-year-old Elgin man accused of animal cruelty after 43 dead and decaying cats, birds, squirrels and other animals were found in a van outside his rented home last week loves his pets and has never harmed any of them, his attorney said Thursday.

William Tinkler, of the 200 block of Villa Street, appeared in Elgin branch court Thursday where prosecutors got a court order to allow Elgin animal control officers to set traps in and around the home.

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A hearing is set for Oct. 11 to decide whether Tinkler will forfeit four adult female cats that were seized from his home last week. He is due in court on Nov. 2 on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

Defense attorney Michael Reidy said there are no more pets at the Villa Street home and Tinkler agreed to allow Elgin police to set traps because he is cooperating with authorities and has cleaned the home.

"He loves animals. He's never hurt any of them. He's not anybody who abused animals," Reidy said, noting that Tinkler is a Vietnam veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. "That's why he's cooperating with this whole thing. He's never injured an animal."

Elgin Police Lt. Dan O'Shea said that when authorities spoke to Tinkler last week, he indicated he had between eight to 12 cats at the home. Police needed a court order to return to the property to get the remaining cats, he said.

"They very well may be gone," O'Shea said. "If they are (still there), we'd like to trap them and get them to a vet."

Reidy said he could not directly address why Tinkler had the van full of dead animals; court documents state the animals, including 27 cats, were "dead or decaying" and included a muskrat, baby opossum and possibly a baby ferret.

"At worst, he may have had remains on his property," Reidy said, adding that all the cats in the van had died of natural causes and not abuse. "There may be an issue as to how he got rid of the remains. That's an issue that has to be developed in our defense."

Next week, Judge Kathryn Karayannis will hear arguments on whether Tinkler should forfeit the cats, which currently are being cared for at the Golf Rose Animal Hospital in Schaumburg. Officials there have said that aside from fleas and routine respiratory infections, the cats are in good health and don't appear to show any signs of abuse.

If convicted of the misdemeanor cruelty, Tinkler could be jailed for up to 364 days. Probation, fines and community service also are options.

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