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South Elgin Woman Charged With Animal Cruelty After Sheriff's Deputies Find 3 Dead Dogs; Neighbors Had Complained About Abuse For Years

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Three dead dogs were found in a Kane County home, but neighbors weren't surprised. They've made animal abuse reports for years.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory shows us the long list of complaints, and the action that's been taken – or lack thereof.

Kane County authorities have visited the home on West Drive in South Elgin more than 20 times in five years.

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said, most recently, a deputy "noticed an animal carcass inside of a trash bag on the front porch."

The sheriff's office later found two other dead dogs on the property. Eleven more live dogs were seized.

"There were areas of dog waste in the house where you would need a shovel to clear the path," Hain said.

Hain's deputies said all of the dogs were starved. They arrested 27-year-old Emily Chesterfield, who will need to fight a felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty.

Neighbors asked CBS 2 to find out why it took until now to do something about the abuse at the house.

In addition to multiple animal complaints filed with the sheriff, CBS 2 found reports made to Kane County Animal Control, with details that are eerily similar to Chesterfield's felony case. Some complaints were from years ago.

In 2011, a "caller noted that there are 20+ dogs in the house and dead dogs in the house."

CBS 2 asked Animal Control for the follow-up paperwork to that incident, but was told there isn't any.

The same address showed Animal Control "bite reports" in 2015, 2016, and 2018; all the same dog, which was given back each time after a rabies check.

Animal Control did act in 2019, forcing the homeowner to surrender all her dogs. She was cited for "failure to register."

Could more have been done? What about those non-existent follow-up reports?

CBS 2 tried to figure out if something slipped through the cracks.

The doors at Animal Control were locked because of COVID-19.

Kane County Animal Control Director Brett Youngsteadt wasn't available for an interview, but acknowledged over email that officers have been to Chesterfield's home on several occasions and have "not actually witnessed any poor living conditions until recently…the exterior of the house is well kept."

Animal Control officers have no "policing powers," he added.

So what about the people who do?

"We can't just walk into people's home if we can't make observations from the outside," Hain said.

Both departments said they feel like they did everything they could.

Sheriff's deputies responded to Chesterfield's home twice in 2018, citing her for violating "owner duties."

Animal Control wouldn't share additional details about zoning citations filed against Chesterfield, saying those cases are ongoing.

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