Updated 12/17/10 9:30 p.m. C.T.

DEER PARK, Ill. (WBBM) — Lake County authorities say they arrested the former operator of a closed no-kill animal shelter after discovering 18 dead dogs and six more severely dehydrated and malnourished animals at the facility.

The owner, 48-year-old Diane Eldrup of Deer Park, was being held Friday at the Lake County Jail on $250,000 bond on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals. Authorities did not say whether she had an attorney.

WBBM’s Mike Krauser reports the animals were discovered in a building belonging to the owner of Muddy Paws on Rand Road in Deer Park.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser Reports

Lake County Animal Care and Control officials were alerted to the dead animals by the owner’s estranged husband, who went to the building to retrieve his belonging.

The building is in foreclosure and belongs to Diane Eldrup.

Animal care officials say four dogs and two cats were rescued from the facility, but are said to be badly dehydrated. It’s not clear how long they’ve been there.

Authorities were waiting for a search warrant to go into the business and remove the dog carcasses.

Just across the street, John Hamilton runs the pristine Little Paws Inn where small dogs bark and play. He says he wishes he could have saved the animals at Muddy Paws. But he had no idea conditions were so poor there.

 “Being so close, you know, we wish we could have done something about it,” Hamilton told CBS 2’s Pamela Jones. “How could you know that something like that’s going on over there?”

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