Lake County Shelter Owner Convicted Of Animal Torture

WAUKEGAN, Ill.(CBS) — A jury has convicted a former Lake County shelter operator on charges of animal torture.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports, Diane Eldrup, 48, faces up to five years in prison on a conviction of torture, as well as aggravated cruelty to animals.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports

Last December, far north suburban Kildeer police were called to the Muddy Paws Dog Rescue animal shelter on Rand Road. They discovered 30 dogs, three birds and an opossum that officials said had all starved to death.

At trial, a video tour of the Muddy Paws Animal Shelter was played, showing dog food and bottled water, and the bodies of 14 dead dogs in varying states of decay.

The dead dogs were found lying on top of piles of moldy feces in locked kennel cages, some of which were littered with frozen maggots. Some of the dogs had been reduced to skeletal remains.

The images presented to the jury and about a dozen people in the Lake County courtroom of Judge James Booras Wednesday were so graphic that one elderly woman in the audience abruptly exited the court room, gagging all the way out.

The graphic images also swayed the jury, which returned its verdict around 10 p.m. Thursday after six hours of deliberations.

Eldrup told the court she failed to care for the animals because she was overwhelmed by financial problems and the collapse of her marriage.

“It’s a lot of weight on her shoulders. She cared for them (the dogs) when no one else wanted them,” defense attorney John Curnyn said. “The world got so heavy that she fell apart … the worst you can say about Diane is that she is neglectful.”

Curnyn pleaded with Judge Booras not to remand Eldrup into custody following her conviction, citing her lack of criminal history and her 9-year-old son.

Assistant State’s Attorney Suzanne Willett asked the judge to revoke Eldrup’s bond.
Booras did not order that Eldrup be taken into custody.

“I am just all around thrilled and gratified by the jury’s verdict, especially since they took the time to convict her of 54 charges,” Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Mermel said following the verdict. “There’s no question they were sending a message, not only to Diane Eldrup but to others who would hurt helpless animals.”

Eldrup is due back in court for sentencing Oct. 18.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed o this report.

  • tom Sharp

    Don’t tell me, let me guess: probation, community service and a small fine. There is no crime more heinous than hurting a loving, defenseless being–human or not.

    • Roberta Waker

      She should get the maximum sentence and NEVER be allowed to have another animal. There is NO excuse for allowing these animals to starve to death while locked in a closet or be tortured in other ways because she was going through personal problems. There ARE agencies that would have helped her; all she had to do was look. No sympathy for her here; my sympathy is for the poor defenseless animals she tortured and killed.

  • Pamela Cambria

    What is wrong, with this woman, if she needed help Why, in Heck did she not call someone! It does not matter if she had problems, She should have called someone in her family or another Shelter, to take these Dogs! I am crying right now, just reading this! Very, Very Sad!

    • Roberta Waker

      Right on. There were agencies that could have helped. I cried too for these poor defenseless animals.

  • Lakisha

    I feel like when you get a pet you take in just like family. People just at animals as just animals , Animals are breathing living creatures like us so we should show them a little respect ….. My doggy is my baby family

    • Roberta Waker

      Right you are. Animals were given to us to care for and are our responsibility to keep fed, warm, loved and healthy. My pets are wonderful, loving companions that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The thought of people who torture and kill these beautiful creatures is horrifying.


    Bind her..lay her on ground & pile the rotting bodies ridden w/ maggots on top of her & walk away. Our animals need love, they ask nothing in return & NOTHING is what she gave so so sad

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