EAST BRUNSWICK — An online petition demanding that this township shut down a pet store accused of animal abuse has gathered 107,000 signatures.

Just Pups owner Vincent LoSacco, 50, is facing 267 animal cruelty charges filed by
the NJ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The charges are mostly from the lack of adequate infection control procedures, poor and improper veterinary care and the co-mingling of sick animals with new animals just brought into the store. Several animals purchased at the store were found to be "sick and unfit for sale" after being examined by veterinarians. The NJSPCA said it found three dead dogs in a freezer.

The Township Council is scheduled to meet March 28 to discuss the future of Just Pups, which remains closed in the meantime.

LoSacco has denied the allegations and and disputed the NJSCPA's count of sick animals.

LoSacco also operates Just Pups in Emerson, East Hanover and Paramus.

The controversy in this Middlesex County township comes amid recent crackdowns by the state against pet shops.

In January, the state Division of Consumer Affairs cited 26 pet shops for violating the state "pet lemon" law. In December, officials in Woodbridge shut down a pet store and arrested its owner after authorities found three sick puppies and dogs lying in their own waste.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen municipalities in Camden County have banned pet stores from selling cats and dogs bred in so-called mills, which animal advocates say are inhumane.

The East Brunswick petition, with a goal of 120,000 signatures, wants the Town Council to pull the license and for the state to inspect the three other "Just Pups" locations in East Hanover, Emerson and Paramus. Just 3,500 of the signatures are from New Jersey.

The petition was created by East Brunswick resident Nicole Miller who said she was "stunned and horrified" at the reported abuse. “I wrote my Care2 petition to shut down Just Pups because I couldn't stand the idea any more puppies falling into LoSacco's abusive hands."

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