267 cruelty charges: 3 dead dogs found in pet store freezer, NJSPCA says
An East Brunswick pet store has been charged with 267 counts of animal cruelty after, officials say, several animals sold there were found to be sick, and the remains of three dead dogs were found in a freezer.
The NJ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged Vincent LoSacco, 50, owner of Just Pups in East Brunswick, on Monday in 40 separate summonses with fines that could top $100,000. LoSacco has a hearing in East Brunswick Municipal Court on March 7.
The NJSPCA was also granted a temporary restraining order by East Brunswick Municipal Court to prevent the store from opening until further notice.
The store has been under investigation since January, according to the NJSPCA, which said it has shut down the store on four occasions since then. It expects its investigation to expand to Just Pups stores LoSacco owns in East Hanover, Emerson and Paramus, and a store called NJ Exotic Pets in Lodi. He also owns a Just Pups store in Vallhalla, New York.
LoSacco, in a message on the East Brunswick store's Facebook page, said prior to the most recent charges "Just Pups East Brunswick has been under attack by animal activist extremists who hate all Puppy Stores. They have been making baseless, false, and misleading statements regarding our store and the care we give our puppies."
On its website, the store posted that the store met with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and "was found to be in 100% compliance in all four locations, to the former and revised version of the New Jersey Pet Purchase Protection Act, which resulted in zero penalties and or fines." That message is repeated on Facebook pages for several Just Pups locations.
The NJSCPA said 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 recently bought at the store were found to be "sick and unfit for sale" after being examined by veterinarians according to the NJSPCA.
As a result of the co-mingling of sick and new arrivals at the store, "animals were unnecessarily exposed to giardia, distemper, upper respiratory infections and other infectious diseases that resulted in the exposure of sick animals to other animals and humans, creating a dangerous condition that threatens the health, safety and welfare of the public," wrote the NJSPCA.