An Elgin man this week pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal neglect, relinquished ownership of his seven dogs and was sentenced to 40 days in jail after authorities searched a rented Elgin home Jan. 31 and found filthy conditions.
The sister of Robert Shilling, 38, said he is not a hoarder nor an animal abuser.
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He was evicted from one home and his two kids were declared wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services because of his wife's drug problem, so he temporarily moved into the home in the 600 block of Lavioe Avenue, said Stacy Bishop.
Caring for the dogs became too much for him to handle and he wanted to take responsibility by pleading guilty now, Bishop said.
"He's trying to fix his life and move forward from the problems that have been caused by his wife. The dogs were placed (at the home) by her. He was trying to keep up with the situation and she went to jail (on a drug charge)," said Bishop. "He was never raised like this. I am not making excuses for the situation by any means. He knows the situation was wrong."
Shilling was arrested after Elgin police and animal control officers searched the home after the landlord complained that an unauthorized tenant was allowing dogs to urinate and defecate in the home.
Three other individuals also were arrested and are facing various charges ranging from animal cruelty to child neglect. They have been released on their own recognizance.
Shilling was held at the Kane County jail on $10,000 bail since his arrest Feb. 7.
According to Shilling's plea agreement, he can have his sentenced halved for good behavior while in jail, meaning he will serve 20 days total and could be released from custody in about a week. He also was fined $500 and given probation.
Bishop said Shilling had owned dog for nearly a decade when his wife got a Rottweiler, but spent money on drugs in instead of getting the dog fixed. The two dogs had several litters.
Bishop said her brother was sad the dogs were forfeited, but "he also understands it's the best thing for them."
The dogs have been cared for at the Golf Rose Animal Hospital in Schaumburg the last few weeks.
Charles Bulson, Golf Rose business manager, said officials had not yet received notification that Shilling had forfeited the dogs. Once final word arrives, the dogs will be evaluated to see if they are fit to be adopted.
"The dogs are doing well," Bulson said. "We'll evaluate the dogs for their behavior, determine if they are adoptable and if they are, we'll turn them over to a licensed humane society."
After police searched the home on Lavoie, it was declared uninhabitable. Police said the city lifted the prohibition last week.
Shilling has no plans to return there, Bishop said.