Two charged after dogs die in 'disturbing' starvation case
Two Hoffman Estates residents are accused of neglecting and starving two dogs in a DuPage County case authorities described as "disturbing."
Sarah M. Gorski, 19, and Andre P. Norris, 27, both of the 1700 block of Queensbury Circle, each have been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and forgery -- both felonies -- as well as misdemeanor unlawful disposal of an animal.
The charges stem from the deaths of the defendants' dogs -- Melodias or "Otis," a German shepherd, and Bubba, a Corgi -- and from an allegation they forged pay stubs from Norris' former employer, Petland.
Gorski and Norris appeared Tuesday in DuPage County court for a bond hearing after turning themselves in Monday. Judge Brian Telander set bond at $100,000 for Norris and $50,000 for Gorski, which would require Norris to post $10,000 and Gorski to post $5,000 to get out of jail.
Authorities said both dogs died in March, with Otis' death under investigation since March 2. That's when Naperville police and Naperville animal control personnel responded to a report of a dead German shepherd found near a trail area.
Officers found the dog, later identified as Otis, in a wooded area near a ditch, wrapped in a bed sheet and placed in a storage container. Authorities said the dog weighed roughly 20 pounds, when the typical shepherd should weigh about 70.
An investigation led officers to Gorski and Norris as the owners of Otis, as well as two other dogs. Authorities executed a search warrant at their home on March 12.
Investigators found one dog in their home, a German shepherd/hound mix named Scooby, inside a rusted dog crate filled with animal feces, blood and urine. Authorities said Scooby appeared severely starved and weighed about 20 pounds with "massive sores," including one nearly down to the bone, and "feces stuck in his fur." Investigators also observed that Scooby could not walk.
Investigators did not find a third dog, but learned Bubba died in the first week of March. Officers later found Bubba in a field, where Gorski and Norris are accused of dumping him, wrapped in a sheet.
The University of Illinois Veterinary School conducted necropsies on Otis and Bubba. Veterinarians determined Otis died from canine parvovirus, starvation and rat poisoning; Bubba, who weighed four pounds when he was found, died of severe starvation.
"To say the charges against Sarah Gorski and Andre Norris are disturbing would be a gross understatement," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a news release. "Otis and Bubba both died a horrible, painful death, allegedly because these two defendants starved them to death.
"What's even more disturbing is the allegation that the defendants fed Otis rat poison. Thankfully, the manner in which Gorski and Norris allegedly treated their pets was discovered and Scooby appears to be on the mend. If these charges are proven in court, the defendants will pay a serious price."
Naperville police Chief Robert Marshall said his department took the case "extremely seriously" and investigated in coordination with animal control, the state's attorney, veterinary colleges at the University of Illinois and Michigan State University, VCA Boulder Terrace and Care Animal Clinic of Plainfield.
"I am very pleased we are holding those allegedly responsible in this case accountable for their actions," Marshall said in a news release. "I am appalled by the alleged abuse perpetrated on these defenseless animals."
Gorski and Norris are next scheduled to appear in court June 1 for arraignment in front of Judge Jeffrey MacKay.
• Daily Herald staff writer Jake Griffin contributed to this report.