Hundreds of Neglected Pets Rescued In Rochelle

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

More than two hundred fifty dogs and cats at a home in rural Lee County, outside Rochelle, are getting their first real taste of affection, as well as consistent food and water in a long time. Their owner, 65-year old Barbara Munroe, is in Lee County jail facing animal cruelty charges. Since Friday, animal rescuers have been moving the pets out of Munroe's home and into a temporary shelter.

"The animals are going to be cared for as best they can, taken care of medically, fed," says Lee County State's Attorney Paul Whitcombe.
But rescuers were too late for as many as two hundred of the animals they found dead all around the house, some just skeletons. Rescuers believe Munroe did not want to hurt her pets and did her best to care for them, but couldn't do it alone.

"She was way out of her league with this. So it's very possible they died of upper respiratory infections or old age or starvation is certainly a possibility," says Beth Drake, Executive Director of Tails Humane Society in Dekalb.
Dozens of pens wrap around the outside of the house. Rescuers say the outdoor animals may actually have had it best. They say it was inside where there were piles of feces, no light and no fresh air that animals suffered the most.

"It's beyond filfthy. I'm not sure what the word would be to describe it. The smell in there is very overpowering. Your eyes burn almost immediately. But our focus was on these animals have been breathing like this for quite some time so clearly we can deal with it for the time that we're in there," says Drake.

Munroe could face up to a year in jail. State's Attorney Paul Whitcombe says there will be a legal process to decide if Munroe can get her animals back. If not they'll all go to new homes and a new life.

Whitcombe also says authorities had been by the house before, but had never gone inside. Munroe finally called animal control last week saying she needed help dealing with her pets. That's when rescuers first saw the filfth and realized how serious the situation was. Whitcombe says the condition of the house suggests Munroe could be mentally ill.

The animals are not looking for homes yet. But it's going to cost a lot of money to maintain them while the legal issues get squared away. Munroe makes her first court appearance Monday.

In the meantime, visit the website to make monetary donations. Most of the animals Munroe had been buying over the years are purebred and rescuers say they're mostly well-behaved, so should eventually be adoptable.

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  • by tara Location: alabama on Aug 30, 2008 at 05:34 AM
    felicia, if you know those cats, rabbits and bird are living in unsanitary and neglectful conditions do something..if not you, who? call animal services..the are their voice! /
  • by tara Location: alabama on Aug 30, 2008 at 05:29 AM
    animals are not property. this woman was buying animals ...she had more than 250 of them, living in filthy, unsanitary conditions. what sort of companionship can she offer these animals or vice versa when they are simply barricaded in pens vying for any kind of attention. that fact that this was going out of her way, continueing to buy animals to add to a population she knew she couldnt care for- she did call for help - leaves me with little sympathy for this woman...instead, i feel for these animals who were condemned to live in such miserable conditions for so long . if you cant or wont make an animal a part of your family don't bother getting one. life on a chain , in a cage or otherwise ignored is no life. by the way , this woman was not taking in strays she was intentionally buying and adding to her matter what her intentions they were not enough. ..
  • by Felicia Location: Dixon IL on Jul 2, 2008 at 03:49 PM
    Hi this is wonderful that they have been rescued. I know a place in Rochelle IL a lady has 7 cat's two birds a rabbit. This house has be infested with fleas for the last 2 years. These cats have sores on them and ear problems. Half of them don't use a litter pan. When they get caught the lady hits them or rubs the faces in it. The house smells like a zoo. Please some one help these cats get there help also. It's not fair to them to be in this situation. These people don't have any idea to take care of them they haven't recieved shots for awhile contact me if you need futher more information Thanks..
  • by this is ridiculous Location: Rockford,IL on Oct 19, 2007 at 09:31 PM
    Dekalb says situation wasn't bad? These people are in care of these animals? This woman needs to be locked up with felony convictions. She knew what she was doing. Had enough money to buy pure breds, but now unemployed? Put animals in cars to live and let 200 animals die? But now crazy when she is caught with the proof of 200 carcasses? Wake up. This is clearer than OJ. She knew what she was a criminal and hid it. Now caught, she plays I'm the nuts card..I am sick of reading she is sick, so no jail. Pedophiles are sick and they go to prison. I will never get a rescue animal. How can a rescue person spin this story that it was not bad. I keep thinking about the dead 200 carcasses. What did they go through? Noone cares about 200 animals? 1 felony for each dead animal. That's justice. That is the law. Read Il charges for neglect and the law in other counties who find dead carcasses, those people are hit with aggravated animal cruelty=felony.
  • by Tiffany Location: Freeport, IL on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:20 PM
    Yes I was very interested in this segment. I was wondering on how the adoption is going. I love pets especially dogs and I was just curious to know whether or not you have any Bulldogs that are available to adopt and if so I would be highly interested in adopting it. I am willing to pay 500 dollars for this pet, I have wnated one for the longest time but they are so much money and I just cant afford it. I have a wonderful well cleaned and well kept that it would just have the time of its life with me. I would appreciate it if you could contact me wiaht any kind of information you are willing to give me. I thank you for your time and I hope that you and your loving arms of help have a wonderful blessed day.
  • by Marianne Hastey Location: Santa Fe,NM on Oct 18, 2007 at 06:01 PM
    This is in NO Way the same thing as Mickael Vick's horrible cruelty. I think that this women means well & IS NOT MENTALLY ILL for trying to save animals. She needs help & not prison time.
  • by Ann Location: Sycamore, IL on Oct 18, 2007 at 05:36 PM
    Clearly this lady has a mental issue. The animals ARE tramatized from being kept in such conditions. I know, I have seen them. Very few of the dogs will bark. Who on earth knows what has taken place in her mind. As I understand the only way she can be forced to receive mental help is by arresting her and having mental evaluations done. It is certainly not normal for someone to live with dead animals. It is also not normal for a person to live with urine, fecal matter, and filth. T.A.I.L.S. is an excellent facility that was created by the members of our comunity. T.A.I.L.S. needs financial donations from as many people as possible. This money goes for the care these animals need, the vaccinations, spaying/neutering, food, medication, and anything else that is needed. The people that have arrived to help since this tragedy has been discovered is absolutely amazing. Keep up the good work everyone!
  • by howie Location: US on Oct 18, 2007 at 07:08 AM
    The photos of the dogs and cats shown appear to be well fed. From what I have read, it sounds like the majority of the animals are well socialised. This lady needed help with management and the fact that she asked for help and got this kind of punishment is just wrong. I hope the legal system can help her with her problem. It seems to me that she put every ounce of her life into trying to help these dogs. Fat and friendly dogs don't just happen, they are made that way by the person who cares for them. From the pictures, I can tell that she has a small fortune invested in kennels, crates, pens and food. The people that sold her the purebred dogs and cats or dumped them on her should all be contacted and held somewhat responsable for there part in this. I also feel that the Veterinarions that she used should also be held somewhat accountable for letting her get in over her head like this. She should not carry the burden of this situation all on her own.
  • by Bob Location: IL on Oct 18, 2007 at 04:39 AM
    I would agree, jail time is not appropriate for her. A couple of years community service working at a shelter would be. Also her assets should be ceased and sold to pay for the expenses to care for these animals. She should never have an animal of her own again!
  • by Tracie Location: Rockford on Oct 17, 2007 at 04:18 PM
    I am really upset. U should lock her up and treat her like that.. Its uncalled for where is the justice for the pets?
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