A look inside Just Pups van where cops say 67 puppies nearly froze (VIDEO)
YouTube video posted by the Daily Voice
With his store in Paramus shut down by the mayor, Just Pups owner Vincent LoSacco continues to defend his treatment of animals — giving a tour of the van where authorities say they found 67 near-freezing puppies.
"This was all a major misunderstanding," LoSacco told the Paramus Daily Voice news website. "I can understand how a police officer walks by a van and hears dogs crying and is concerned, but in the end I am hoping they will see it my way."
In a video by the site, he described the van as having specially built cages, catch trays for waste and tip-proof bowls. LoSacco said that when the van was towed away earlier this week, food and water spilled all over the place.
Police said they found the van Monday parked in back of the store after hearing the whines and cries of the dogs inside. LoSacco told NJ Advance Media that employees were supposed to be at the store early Monday morning to meet the van but they didn't show up.
He told the Daily Voice there is a propane tank in back of the van to keep the van warm. It's kept on the lowest settings because "the van is so well insulated and its so small and you have the body heat of the animals ... otherwise it would get dangerously warm," he said. LoSacco showed a fresh air vent in the roof of the van that he said acts to remove odors and bring in fresh air.
Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said on Facebook this week the borough is "taking the Just Pups matter very seriously." The borough is issuing almost 400 summonses related to the Paramus location, and its board of health will start hearings for the possible revocation of the store's license, he said.
The dogs remain the property of the business and will remain in the control of animal control officials until a court directs otherwise, he said.
The incident in Paramus is just the latest involving LoSacco and his Just Pups chain. Several weeks ago, authorities charged him with 267 counts of animal cruelty after, officials say, several animals sold at his East Brunswick Store were found to be sick, and the remains of three dead dogs were found in a freezer. In that incident, the NJ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged LoSacco in 40 separate summonses with fines that could top $100,000.
LoSacco had taken to social media for impassioned defenses of his treatment of animals — but has since taken down a Facebook page dedicated to rebutting the allegations against him
The Daily Voice reported earlier the Just Pups' Emerson location is also facing several violations from an April 4 inspection. Authorities allege there was no approved plan for the store’s isolation room, no documentation of training for a veterinarian in infectious disease control, no evidence or documentation of a veterinarian monitoring for infectious disease control, vaccine prescriptions were not provided and the store was missing tile in the front display area. The store was issued a “conditional A” license to operate, the site said.
Ashley Dondershine, a student at Bergen Community College, organized a small protest outside the Paramus store on Route 17. “We're doing the right thing,” she told the Bergen Record.
The Oradell Animal Hospital said on its Facebook page that four of the puppies were still receiving medical treatment as of Wednesday Tyco Animal Control Services, which took possession of many of the puppies. It said Tuesday via Facebook its “biggest need at this time is cleaning supplies: Paper towels, bleach wipes, bleach, laundry detergent, and Lysol spray.” Both organizations said that despite phone calls from people interested in takiing in the dogs they are not available for adoption.