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Three arrested, kids found in animal-hoarding case

Randy G. McDonald 51 Elgsentenced 40 days Kane County Jail charge cruel treatment animals.

Randy G. McDonald, 51, of Elgin, sentenced to 40 days in the Kane County Jail on a charge of cruel treatment to animals.

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Updated: March 7, 2013 6:44AM

ELGIN — Three people were arrested and a fourth was being sought after police found nine dogs in a home that housed children and was strewn with animal feces, authorities announced Tuesday.

Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault said the Elgin department’s animal control unit received a complaint Jan. 30 that an extremely strong odor was emanating from a rental home at 614 Lavoie Ave., on the city’s southeast side. The caller said there were possibly five dogs and three cats living in the house, along with several adults and children.

The next day, Theriault said, animal control officers executed a search warrant at the house and found nine dogs on the property. The dogs, which he said were of varying breeds, were seized and taken to Golf Rose Animal Hospital in Schaumburg to be examined and held until their future could be determined by the courts.

Theriault said seven dogs were found in the home’s basement and two in the upstairs area, but all areas of the house were dirty and foul-smelling.

Three adults living in the home at the time were arrested, police said. Cheryl D. Thacker, 66, and Randy G. McDonald, 51, who Theriault said were the tenants renting the house, were each charged with one count of cruel treatment to animals, a Class A misdemeanor. They were released on signature bonds pending a Feb. 22 court hearing..

Police said they found two children under age 10 living in the home and that their mother, 38-year-old Crystal M. Zwarton, was charged with two counts of child neglect, a Class A misdemeanor. She was booked and processed at the Elgin police station, then taken to the DuPage County Jail because she had several outstanding arrest warrants for traffic offenses, Theriault said.

He said the two children have temporarily been placed in the custody of their father, who was not living at the Lavoie Avenue address.

Theriault said Zwarton’s relationship to the older couple was uncertain but that they may be her stepparents.

Fourth sought

He said arrest warrants also are being sought for 38-year-old Robert A. Shilling, a friend who the other adults said had been living in the basement and owned the seven dogs found down there. Shilling is charged with seven counts each of violation of owner duties, a Class B misdemeanor; cruelty to animals; and failure to inoculate pets, a Class C misdemeanor.

Theriault said the dogs seemed to be pets and investigators have found no signs that they were being used in dogfighting.

Police said city code enforcement officials inspected the house and declared it unfit for human occupancy. Tuesday night, it was empty with red “condemned” stickers while two overflowing trash carts at the curb contained items including an empty dog food bag, a small plastic pet food bowl, an empty five-gallon water cooler bottle and dozens of beverage cans.

A neighbor who was walking his own dogs Tuesday evening complained that the family allowed their animals to enter his yard. “I thought the smell was just from their yard” but he began to realize that it was the house itself that stank, he said. He declined to give his name.

Ciriaco Delapaz, who lives across an alley from the little home’s front door, said he had been bothered in the past by how the dogs barked a lot and relieved themselves in the alley and neighboring yards.

“The animal control unit would like to remind citizens that the city of Elgin has a restriction on the number of dogs, being three per single-family residence and two per multifamily residence,” Theriault said. “If you have a complaint or concern about animals within the city of Elgin, please contact the Elgin Police Department at 847-289-2500 and request to speak to an animal control officer.”

In an unrelated case, 60-year-old William Tinkler was arrested last Sept. 26 after police found four live cats and an estimated 43 dead animals, most of those cats, in his home and his van in the 200 block of Villa Street in Elgin. Tinkler is due in court Feb. 21 to face charges of cruelty to animals, violation of an owner’s duties and violating the Illinois Dead Animal Disposal Act, which is a Class C misdemeanor. Tinkler’s cats were seized by the state and since have been adopted by new owners.

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