ROCHELLE, Ill. – A Lee County woman pleaded not guilty to 10 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and not caring for her pets, four days after authorities found more than 200 dead animals scattered on her property, stuffed in the refrigerator, strewn across floors and packed into barrels.
Barbara C. Munroe, 65, of Rochelle insisted Monday she had done nothing wrong. She was held in the Lee County Jail on $35,000 bond.
Munroe's house reeked of "ammonia, decaying flesh and feces," said Lee County state's attorney Paul Whitcombe. The Lee County Health Department condemned her rural home Monday.
Authorities estimate that about 300 animals were alive on the property, including 160 cats, 105 dogs and 35 birds, along with about 200 dead cats and two dead dogs.
"That's just an estimate," Whitcombe said. "A lot had deteriorated to the point where it was hard to tell whether you were looking at two, three, four or 10."
There was no telephone listing for a Barbara Munroe in Rochelle. It was not immediately clear if Munroe had an attorney.
The TAILS Humane Society was caring for the animals at a temporary shelter at the Taylor Municipal Airport in DeKalb. TAILS executive director Beth Drake said 12 of the dogs were to be euthanized because of aggressive behavior.
Authorities searched the home Thursday after Munroe failed to bring 35 of her dogs in for a rabies vaccination. They said they found animals kept in cars and many animals dehydrated and malnourished.
Authorities said they have been unable to find any of Munroe's family.
"We want to be sure animals are cared for but even more important is preserving the life of this lady," Whitcombe said. "It seems she was trying to do the best for them. But she fell short."