EMERSON — A Jersey puppy store owner, who has come under fire recently for his treatment of some of the dogs at his stores throughout the state, is keeping his business open in Emerson — even though his license has expired.

Vincent LoSacco, owner of Just Pups in Emerson, insists he applied for his license to be renewed a day before it was to expire on June 30, but so far he has not been given a new license.

Police in the borough have been giving LoSacco two summonses a day since July 1 for operating without a license.

“We applied for our license in a timely fashion, all the paperwork was accurate according to my attorney, and I guess you have to ask the borough why they haven’t issued it,” he said. “It’s beyond my control. That’s why my attorney advised me to stay open, because he knows everything was submitted timely and accurately. We’ve done everything according to the law.”

LoSacco's Just Pups store in East Brunswick closed down earlier this year after he was charged with 267 counts of animal cruelty. The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says some healthy pups were being kept with sick ones at that location. The remains of three dead dogs were found in a freezer, officials said.

In April, the Just Pups store in Paramus was forced to close after LoSacco and his brother were hit with 134 counts of animal cruelty, for allegedly leaving several dogs unattended in a cold van in a parking lot, but LoSacco said he did nothing wrong.

“It was insulated and properly heated. The police report indicated there was a good deal of condensation on the windshield, which is outside the cabin where the dogs are,” he said, still defiant over the charges. “Everybody knows it was very well-heated, the dogs were not over-crowded, they all had food and water and the van was adequately heated. It was no difference if those puppies were in a van or in my store, it would have been similar climate, same food and water, similar sized cage.”

Those puppies were later put up for adoption.

LoSacco said he’s at a loss to understand why protesters are now continuing to show up outside his Emerson store every day.

Emerson forbids the sale of dogs from so-called puppy mills — under an ordinance that was passed just weeks ago. A story about its adoption by The Record notes the ordinance was introduced "after a Just Pups outlet in Paramus owned by Vincent LoSacco landed in the center of a controversy."

The Emerson ordinance defines a puppy mill as a “commercial dog-breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits," and gives the borough the ability to shut down a store found to be in violation.

LoSacco said "there are other towns that don’t have such a law, and some pet stores are selling puppy mill dogs, so my personal belief is that the protesters are more interested in personal attention than the plight of puppy mills.

“You would think they would be picketing those stores and petitioning those towns to pass laws like Emerson has, instead they choose to come here and try to incite motorists to beep their horn," he said.

LoSacco said the bottom line is “we treat animals wonderfully, spectacularly, and we’ve been here for 7 years, so we have thousands and thousands of customers that are thrilled with us, grateful to us. They’ve been stopping in the store here, telling me to keep your chin up, and they’ll tell me well I bought my dog 2 years ago or I bought my dog 5 years ago and it’s the best thing that ever happened to us.”

He added the situation has most certainly gone out of control.

“Yes I think definitely things have spiraled, and I think there has definitely been a piling on mentality.”

So what happens next?

“The borough has two options. They can issue the license or I guess they could try to do some kind of court order to close me if that’s the route they want to take, but I assume a judge would want to know, 'Why do you want to close him? He’s applied for a license. He’s passed his health inspection.'” he said.

LoSacco said he's "not at odds" with the borough government.

"Quite frankly I just don’t understand why they haven’t issued the licencse. I guess they would be the only ones that can answer that question," he said. "I want to be on good terms with them and quietly continue my business before all of this started.”

Multiple calls to Emerson Mayor Louis Lamatina seeking comment and clarification were not returned Tuesday. But Lamatina told the Record the borough was weighing its options regarding Just Pups.

The Borough Council could decide whether to grant LoSacco a license renewal at its next regularly scheduled meeting July 12.

LoSacco has another Just Pups store operating in East Hanover.

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