The first two witnesses in the Muddy Paws animal cruelty and animal torture trial in Lake County Circuit Court, today, told the jury of a feces filled facility, in which caged dogs were left with no food or water.
Diane Eldrup is charged with 18 counts of aggravated animal cruelty and 18 counts of animal torture, for the alleged starving deaths of 14 dogs, and four more survivors found emaciated. The initial dogs were found at the Deer Park shelter and boarding facility in December of 2010.
Co-prosecutor Suzanne Willett conducted the questioning of the first two witnesses.
Officer Nick Baibus of the Kildeer Police Department told the jury that he met Kurt Eldrup, Diane Eldrup’ estranged husband, at Muddy Paws on Dec. 16, 2010. Kurt Eldrup had a court order to pick up his belongings; the residence/facility was locked and Kurt Eldrup had to break a lock to gain entry. Kurt Eldrup told Baibus he found a dead dog inside.
Baibus searched the facility and told the jury he found dogs dead in cages that were filled with feces. He said the home was in a state of complete disarray. Baibus said he observed a black and white pointer dog, who escaped from his cage, standing over the decayed remains of another dog. He told the jury he found three other live dogs.
“They were skin and bones, with no water, no food . . . the rib bones were protruding from their coats,” Baibus said, referring to the live dogs.
During defense attorney John Curnyn’s cross-examination of Baibus, he asked whether the officer actually saw Kurt Eldrup enter the building. Baibus told him he did not; he was at the front of the building and Kurt Eldrup entered from the rear.
Cindy Williams, a humane investigator for Lake County Animal Control, was the second witness to testify, providing details of the condition of the facility and the dead and alive dogs found within.
During questioning by Assistant States Attorney Suzanne Willett, co-prosecutor, Williams confirmed that none of the dogs had food nor water and that all of the cages contained moldy feces and sticky urine.
Williams also provided testimony regarding the four live dogs. She said the dogs were brought to a veterinarian and then to Animal Control. She testified that within two months of feeding and watering, the dogs gained weight. Two of the dogs nearly doubled in weight, she said .
The prosecution also showed photos of bags of dog food, unopened cans of dog food and jugs of water at the Muddy Paws facility. The photos showed neat and organized closets, one of child’s clothing and play equipment and the other of woman’s clothing and shoes.
During Curnyn’s cross-examination of Williams, he said that she didn’t know how long the dogs were at Muddy Paws and that she did not personally witness how the dogs got there, which she agreed.
He directed Williams to circle areas where the bags of dog food had been opened in the photo.
Finally, Curnyn questioned Williams about the photograph of a closet with woman’s clothing. He pointed to a purple bag on the floor of the closet and asked Williams if she knew the contents. Williams did not know what was in the bag.
“Wouldn’t you agree with me that it’s important for the jury to know what’s in the purple bag?” Curnyn asked. Williams said it might be important.
Testimony of more witnesses continued into the afternoon and more witnesses will take the stand tomorrow, Sept. 8, starting at 9 a.m.
Watch Patch for further coverage of the Muddy Paws animal abuse trial.