New Jersey’s most notorious animal hoarding cases
Animal hoarding has been in the spotlight after New Jersey may have seen its worst case last month, in which nearly 300 dogs were rescued from deplorable conditions in a Howell home.
And with summer in full swing, it seems reports of animal hoarding are popping up more frequently.
"Neighbors may tend to report it more because of the smell," said Steve Shatkin, president of New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Animal hoarding is not just a summertime thing, but it may seem that way because people are outdoors more and pick up the smell while walking past the houses on the sidewalk."
New Jersey 101.5 rounded up a list of the most notorious cases of animal hoarding in the Garden State in the past three years.
1. Pitman (December 17, 2015) :
Gloucester County authorities removed 143 cats from a hoarder house in Pitman after receiving calls about a strong odor of cat waste and ammonia that could reportedly be detected for several blocks.
Tracey Rambo rented the two-story house for 11 years. The borough gave home owner Neil Chadwick either 10 days to clean up the house or have it demolished. Chadwick ended up cleaning the house and Rambo was charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty. She is currently in court.
Dozens of the cats were sent to the Gloucester County Animal Shelter and offered at a discounted rate of $25. All cats sent to the shelter were adopted, while the rest were picked up by local rescue groups. .
2. West New York (December 16, 2015) :
Authorities rescued 19 cats, and found one deceased, from the home of a 76-year-old man in a West New York home. After responding to a tip, authorities discovered torn blinds, furniture covered in feces and felines burrowed through holes in the wall to travel between the upper and lower floors. The cats were covered in fleas and their litter boxes were overrun for months.
The cats went up for adoption at the Bergen County Protection and Rescue Foundation and all were adopted out.
3. North Bergen (January 13, 2016)
More than 60 dogs and cats from a North Bergen home were rescued after the tenant, Juan Perez, failed to appear in court on charges of failing to license pets.
Authorities discovered a house covered in feces and urine containing 32 dogs, 17 puppies, two cats and three kittens— still alive. Eleven dead cats and one dead dog were removed from the home in trash bags.
The animals were taken to the Bergen County Protect and Rescue in Cliffside Park, a no-kill animal shelter in Bergen County, where the Northern Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco stopped by to urge the public to adopt animals rescued from the hoarding house.
All of the puppies were adopted and six of the mothers dogs were fostered out, said Doria Melendez, the New Milford Shelter Manager.
"We're following up with the adopters to have dogs spayed and neutered now," she said. "One of the volunteers ended up adopting one of the mother dogs, who is still very skittish from not interacting with humans for so long."
4. Frenchtown (March 2014) :
Authorities discovered three dead livestock and 30 animals living in "deplorable" conditions," NJ Advance Media reported two years ago. Twenty-two dogs and one cat were removed from the home— all had fleas, worms and skin infections, and one dog lost his eye to glaucoma. A farm shed outside the home held a dead lamb, as well as six sheep and a goose.
The residents of the home, a 61-year-old woman and her two daughters, were barred from owning animals in New Jersey for 15 years and ordered to pay $9,499 in veterinarian bills.
The animals were transported to the Hunterdon Humane Shelter, which has seen it's own share of animal cruelty. In 2013, the NJSPCA raided the shelter because it failed to separate sick cats from healthy cats, leading to the deaths of nine cats. Theresa "Tee" Carlson, the shelter's former director, was charged with nine counts of animal cruelty. The NJSPCA took over the shelter from January to June of 2014 and ordered replacement veterinarians, but as of June 1, the shelter is temporarily closed.
5. Independence Township (April 1, 2015) :
After receiving reports of five pigs running loose through the town, authorities found roughly 75 dead animals in the home of Chad Lloyd, 36, and Kimberly Brown, 23. Of the more than 180 animals found were pigs, goats and calfs. Lloyd also owned another residence in Lafayette, where a large pile of dead animals was found.
The couple, who had children in the home, were plead guilty to child abuse as well as animal abuse. They were ordered $4,000 in fines, 30 days of community service and a lifetime ban on owning animals, reported The Dodo.
Surviving animals were sent to the Skylands Animal Shelter in Wantage and the Barnyard Sanctuary in Blairstown.
6. Passaic (January 18, 2016)
Following a tip from the Passaic City health department, the SPCA rescued 218 birds stuffed in the small, feces-covered back room of a Passaic bicycle repair business. The birds, which included Amazon parrots, blue-headed parrots, finches, canaries and lovebirds, were taken posted for adoption on the Passaic County SPCA page.
Luis Sejas, the store owner, hoarded everything from birds to junk, said Passaic County SPCA Investigator Alan Purcell. Sejas cooperated with authorities by surrendering the birds to rescue groups and he was not charged.
"We didn't think there would be anything worth charging him for. It wasn't malicious," Purcell said. "The landlord helped the gentleman get rid of years of garbage and we felt that it was more of a sickness, so we didn't prosecute him."
7. Little Silver (March 10, 2014)
A 56-year-old Monmouth County SPCA volunteer, Gretchen Rell, had boxes upon boxes of more than 300 dead birds stacked in her mother's garage in Little Silver. The birds, many of which died of starvation or dehydration, included seagulls, doves, pigeons and sparrows. Only 18 live birds were found.
Rell initially took the birds in for rehabilitation purposes, but many of them were found by investigators still in their original crates.
Rell was indicted on two counts of animal cruelty on May 12, 2014. During her sentencing of five years probation, the Asbury Park Press reported that Rell wore bird feathers in her hair. She was also ordered 30 hours of community service and to comply with all psychiatric evaluation recommendations.
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