🔴 Dogs running around a parking lot & a strong odor drew attention to a pickup truck

🔴 Over 40 alive dogs and cats and the remains of another 30 were found in the truck

🔴 The owner of the truck said she lost her Virginia home to a fire

HAMPTON TOWNSHIP — A Virginia woman whose pickup truck was found abandoned outside a New Jersey mall with over 70 dead and starving cats and dogs said she lost her home to a fire.

The Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge took in some of the 40 surviving dogs and cats and processed the remains of another 30 from an abandoned pickup truck on Monday night. The organization said the truck had been parked behind a Sussex County shopping center since Thursday.

Dogs running around the parking lot and a strong odor drew attention to the Chevrolet Silverado on Monday. State Police, which provides police service to Hampton, and rescue organizations spent several hours removing the scared, flea-bitten, urine-soaked and feces-caked animals from the truck.

"It was painful to see the fear in the faces of these innocent animals," the animal rescue organization said in a written statement.

Dogs found inside a truck parked in back of a Hampton
Dogs found inside a truck parked in back of a Hampton (Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge)

Dogs loose in the cab

The dogs in the cab were not in cages while the truck bed held three cages with dogs. The remains of dead animals were in garbage bags.

"The dogs and cats inside the truck were terrified, huddled in all corners. Rescuers spent the night pulling petrified animals, one by one, out of the truck, the odor hard to bear. The animals were urinating as they were carried to safety," the rescue group said.

The dogs were described as "scruffy mixed breeds" that appear related.

The remains of each of the animals were wrapped by the workers.

Woman arrested and charged

The owner of the truck, Lynn Leonard, 53, of Bloxom, Virginia, told shelter workers and volunteers she put all the animals into the truck after a fire destroyed her home.

Leonard was arrested on animal cruelty charges and released pending a court date.

Dogs found inside a truck parked in back of a Hampton (Sussex) shopping center
Dogs found inside a truck parked in back of a Hampton (Sussex) shopping center (Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge)

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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