A Niles woman charged with abandoning her two dogs for two weeks in a locked and foreclosed Deerfield townhouse missed court Wednesday after checking herself into a psychiatric hospital, authorities said.
Debra Jaffe, 42, of the 8000 block of Greenwood Drive, was charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals after being accused of abandoning her Westie mix dogs -- named Sydnee and Joey.
When police finally found the animals, Joey had starved to death and Sydnee was severely malnourished, nearly blind and covered in feces and urine, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney George Pappas said.
Pappas said it was unclear if Jaffe had abandoned the dogs when she moved out of the townhouse on the 800 block of Chestnut Street in Deerfield and into a new home in Niles or if she went out of town for two weeks beginning Nov. 1 and left the dogs locked up in the townhouse.
"She said she left them food and water and went out of town, but the home was foreclosed on and she is not living there anymore," he said.
Jaffe was due in court early Wednesday for an arraignment hearing, but Waukegan defense attorney Laura Horner said Jaffe couldn't attend court because she was checking herself into a psychiatric hospital.
Pappas said Deerfield neighbors of the woman contacted police Nov. 14 with a complaint that Jaffe had not been seen for two weeks and the dogs were left alone.
Pappas said officers entered the townhouse and were hit with a strong odor of feces and urine.
Inside, he said, officers found Joey dead and Sydnee severely malnourished. He said Sydnee was taken to the Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove, where she was nursed back to health.
"Sydnee had to have an eye completely sealed shut because of (a disease,)" he said. "Also, she had to be completely shaved because she was matted with feces."
Deerfield police found Jaffe shortly after, Pappas said. She claimed she was forced to go out of town but left the dogs food and water, authorities said.
Jaffe was initially charged in February with animal cruelty, but those charges were upgraded by a grand jury in April.
She could be sentenced to one to three years behind bars if found guilty. She could also receive probation.
Her next court date is May 22.