A meeting later this week should determine the charges to be filed against a Howell Township couple who allegedly had 276 dogs living with them in deplorable conditions.

According to the Monmouth County SPCA president, animal cruelty will "absolutely" be among the charges.

The agencies involved with the hoarding case are to sit down with the county prosecutor's office this week, possibly Wednesday, to "hammer out" the charge details, Ross Licitra said.

Health code violations will also be included, he said. Most of the dogs were unlicensed, Licitra said.

But jail time may not be part of the equation. Licitra said he's "looking toward" community service and mental health evaluations for the couple.

In the meantime, the rescued dogs are getting the medical attention they need at a handful of shelters in New Jersey.

"They actually have scabs on their bodies from so many fleas," said Veronica Ehrenspeck, general manager of the Associated Humane Societies in Tinton Falls, which was handling 20 of the rescued dogs on Monday.

Rescued dogs at Associated Humane Societies in Tinton Falls (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

Ehrenspeck said it seems as if the dogs were fed properly, but they came into the facility dirty, flea-infested and without vaccinations.

Beyond medical care, the dogs will also need behavioral assistance, she added.

"They're unsocialized," she said. "They're just very frightened of people. They're not mean in any way; they're not biting us. They're just hiding under their beds and hiding under their blankets."

According to Licitra, many of the dogs are still "in shock."

Once the dogs are ready for a permanent home, agencies will be ready to give them up for adoption.

Despite the sudden influx of dogs, Licitra said they will not be handed to just anyone who's willing to help.

"We've got to complete background checks on these people," Licitra said. "We do home visits, we do criminal history checks."

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