Trial of former veterinarian charged with animal cruelty continues

The trial of Elisa Kirkpatrick continued Thursday. She’s a former Williamson County, Illinois, veterinarian charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty and practicing without a license.

Kirkpatrick took the stand Thursday afternoon. She’s the last witness the defense is expected to call in her trial. Kirkpatrick talked about the extreme odor near her house, the surgeries she performed in her kitchen and the animal carcasses in her basement.

Describing her treatment of Jason Snoddy’s dog, Chief, Kirkpatrick said she picked up the dog May 21, 2015, and brought him to her house in Creal Springs, Illinois. She said the next day, she got him ready for a surgery to remove a testicle that had turned into a tumor. Kirkpatrick said she started to shave the dog, and he stopped breathing twice, so she stopped. She said she then “split him open.” Snoddy was in the courtroom during Kirkpatrick’s testimony.

Kirkpatrick said it was "a bloody surgery," performed on her kitchen island that she said she sanitized with bleach and cleaning supplies. She said rusty medical supplies on her kitchen island were not used during Chief’s surgery. She said she removed the tumor and put it on the kitchen floor. Later, she said she wrapped the tumor in a plastic bag, possibly a Wal-Mart bag.

“I don’t usually put organs on the floor,” she said, but testified that she thought it sat out in her kitchen for somewhere between 10 and 12 hours. She said she thought her pit bull Vivian possibly tore the bag open, which is why investigators later found the organ exposed on the floor.

Snoddy said Kirkpatrick did not tell him her license had been suspended, and he did not realize the surgery would be conducted under those conditions. Chief died roughly 24 hours later.

Kirkpatrick is also charged for her treatment of a dog named Shane. Investigators said they found Shane in a crate near Chief on May 22, 2015, hours after Kirkpatrick performed Chief’s surgery. Investigators said they found Shane with an inch of bone sticking out where his hind leg and toes should be. Kirkpatrick said he got his back leg caught while trying to escape the cage, and she estimated that happened one week earlier. 

She said “he had chewed the flesh, the skin off." She said she quit bandaging the dog’s leg because she worried he would eat the bandage. Kirkpatrick said she planned to amputate Shane’s leg later on.  She said when investigators were at her home, she tried to explain to a captain with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department that she was treating Shane’s leg. She said Shane was very loved.

Investigators said the odor surrounding Kirkpatrick’s home was overwhelmingly horrible, with feces and trash everywhere and many animals in crates inside her home that were filled with feces. 

Kirkpatrick agreed the smell was terrible, saying “it would knock you over.” She estimated there was a couple hundred pounds of rotting trash and animal feces bagged up and sitting on her front lawn in the bed of a pickup truck. Kirkpatrick said she cleaned her animals’ crates every day, spending four hours cleaning cages, feeding, watering and providing them with medication.

The former veterinarian said  she had multiple dogs and cats on her property, as well as roosters, a duck, a rabbit, three donkeys, a cow, a serval cat, a bobcat, two pigs and birds.

Kirkpatrick said more than one of her dogs hurt themselves trying to escape their crates. Dozens of dead animal carcasses were found by investigators on the scene, bagged up on the floor and piled into freezers. The power had been turned off at her home for two weeks prior to the raid that led investigators to her home May 22, 2015.

Kirkpatrick will take the stand again Friday morning in Williamson County court. Closing arguments and a verdict by judge are expected soon after.

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