Kane County woman pleads guilty to animal cruelty over dogs' starvation, deaths
A woman accused of maltreating 14 dogs, three of which died, pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Emily Chesterfield, who lived near South Elgin and now lives in Carpentersville, accepted a sentence of 24 months of probation and two days in jail.
A felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty was dropped.
In May 2020, authorities responded to an animal-hoarding call in the 7N100 block of West Drive. A Kane County Animal Control officer smelled, then found, a dead dog decomposing in a trash bag outside. There was another dead dog outside and a dead dog inside. Chesterfield also owned a bearded dragon.
Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Brandon Raney said 11 surviving dogs were emaciated.
But, he said, Chesterfield did not deliberately hurt the dogs, Raney said. Malicious intent is required for a felony aggravated cruelty conviction, he said.
Raney said people had abandoned some of the dogs with Chesterfield. Others were born there because she did not spay or neuter the animals.
"She recognized she was in over her head. There was no specific malicious intent" to mistreat the animals, Raney said.
A court-ordered psychological evaluation showed she had hoarding disorder and anxiety. Raney said she developed the mental health problems due to having severe trauma as a crime victim as a young child.
Chesterfield cannot have any pets during probation -- including reptiles, birds and fish -- and Kane County Animal Control is to check her home once a month to make sure of that. She also has to give $1,000 to the Anderson Humane animal shelter, have another psychological evaluation, and undergo counseling with a hoarding-disorder specialist. If she violates probation, she could be resentenced to up to one year in jail.
"I'm very disappointed about what I did, and I am taking steps to make sure it never happens again," Chesterfield told Kane County Judge Alice Tracy.
Another resident of the home, William Chesterfield, was charged with misdemeanor failure of owners' duties. His case is pending.