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BLOOMINGTON — A man accused of firing shots at his girlfriend during a domestic dispute Sunday now faces animal cruelty charges in connection with several rooms filled with dead cats and dogs.

Judge Michael Stroh set bond at $50,000 Tuesday for Curtis Cleary — more than double the $20,000 requested by prosecutors — on charges of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm without a firearm owner’s identification card and domestic battery.

According to police, Cleary’s girlfriend called 911 about 1 a.m. Sunday as she fled the home amid gunfire.

The McLean County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois State Police were among officers who handled the incident that ended around 9 a.m. Sunday with Cleary’s surrender.

Cleary also is charged with two counts of cruel treatment of animals for allegedly starving or mistreating dogs and cats found in the basement of his home and in several rooms of a nearby barn north of Lake Bloomington.

Representatives of several local animal rights groups were in court for Cleary’s bond hearing. They described the rooms of decaying animals they saw during a visit to the property that once housed Don’t Bully My Breed, an animal rescue group founded by the late Catherine Hedges, Cleary’s former girlfriend.

“It was the worst I’ve ever seen. Starvation is the cruelest way to die,” said Tobein Tegard, owner of Wedrose Acres, a McLean County animal farm sanctuary.

Tegard estimated that five rooms in a barn on the property contained about 60 dead cats. “Some were just bones,” she said.

A dozen dogs of mixed breeds were in eight rooms in the basement of the house and two were in trash bags outside, she said.

Tegard is working with the state Department of Agriculture to find homes for farm animals that also are malnourished and sick. She is taking care of several calves.

According to Tegard, Cleary broke off contact with Hedges’ friends in the animal rescue community after her death in September 2011. She said food for the animals was found in the barn.

The assault and weapons charges related to the domestic dispute are felonies but the animal cruelty offenses are misdemeanors.

Cleary also is being held on drunken driving charges that he failed to appear in court on in January.

He must post $5,675 to be released on all charges.


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