By Ruth Fuller
From: Chicago Tribune
Diane Eldrup will spend her nights in prison for the next 30 months for running what a Lake County judge called a “concentration camp for dogs.”
Eldrup, 49, who owned and ran the Muddy Paws rescue and boarding facility in Deer Park, will be allowed to leave jail during the day for work, mental health treatment and visits with her 9-year-old son, Judge James Booras ruled.
“She was taking those dogs in so she could kill them,” Booras said. “It is beyond human comprehension.”
A jury convicted Eldrup on Sept. 8 of aggravated animal cruelty and animal torture for allowing dozens of dogs to starve to death in locked cages at Muddy Paws.
During the sentencing, a Long Grove man testified that when he picked up his dog Rocky from Muddy Paws after a 12-day stay in August 2009, the pit bull-terrier mix had lost 23 pounds, was suffering from a staph infection, had developed a “bad heart murmur” and had 11 open wounds.
Earl Feldman said his dog required intensive veterinary care, at a cost of $7,000.
“He looked like he had just been hung out to dry,” Feldman said. “He was very thin, his head was down and he could not walk.”
Among the dozens of animals whose remains were found on the grounds was the Eldrup family’s own pet Chihuahua, Lucha.
“It was a pile of bones,” Assistant State’s Attorney Suzanne Willett said. “This was not a pet rescue. It was a torture camp for animals and the defendant was a prison guard. Even in prison, you get food and water.”
Eldrup, whose lawyer said she suffered from post-traumatic stress and obsessive-compulsive disorders, tearfully read her own statement, saying she was “truly sorry and remorseful” but also blaming her situation in part on her ex-husband.
“The guilt I will carry in my heart will be lifelong,” she said.
Booras said that while Eldrup’s statement appeared to be sincere, he called her selfish and mean-spirited. He said that many people have similar problems with their spouses but “they don’t retaliate against dogs because they are upset with their husbands. … She gives the impression that she did it all to spite her husband.”
Still, Booras said he considered not only the seriousness of the crime but also the hardship an incarceration would have on Eldup’s son.
“A child needs a mother and a father,” he said.
Both sides will be back in court on Nov. 21 for a hearing on restitution and child support.
Read more: Chicago Tribune