Howell couple who hoarded 276 filthy dogs: We’d like a few back
The Howell couple facing 552 charges of animal cruelty misses their "family" and would like some of the dogs removed from their home back.
Charlene and Joseph Handrik, of Bennett Road, were charged Friday by acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni with 276 counts of animal cruelty for inflicting unnecessary cruelty upon a living animal or creature by providing inhumane living conditions. They also face an additional 276 counts of animal cruelty for failing to provide proper and necessary veterinary care to their dogs
The case was called the worst case of animal hoarding in Monmouth County. All of the charges are disorderly persons offenses.
Ross Licitra, interim president and CEO of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MCSPCA), said that the couple feels like their family has been taken away and have called asking if they could have a few dogs back.
"They're never going to jail. They're in their own jail right now. They're living in that s--thole house and they're without their dogs. That is torture to them, not having their animals. They've actually called me asking if they could have a few dogs a back and I said 'absolutely not,'" Licitra said.
Licitra said he believes the reality of the situation began to set in for the Handricks as the dogs were being removed from their home by workers and volunteers from the MCSPA, Associated Humane Societies in Tinton Falls and St. Hubert’s Animal Shelter in Madison. The workers wore hazmat suits while his street was closed off and the media gathered.
"I think that hit him (Joseph Handrick) hard and he realized the severity of what was going on," Licitra said.
Before authorities would even consider returning some dogs to the couple, they'd need to clean up their home on Bennett Road, Licitra said.
"We can't let even one or two dogs go back to the same conditions," Licitra said. "It's all on them" to make improvements .
Licitra said the 276 dogs removed from the house were in fairly good shape, but "anyone who can live in a house with 300 dogs has a psychological problem.
"They were going through 100-plus pounds of food a day to feed all those animals. Of course they never had any vet care. They were loaded with fleas and the one dog who had a broken leg eventually healed. But I don't think they would have known that the dog had a broken leg because of the sheer magnitude of dogs they had at the house," Licitra said.
Licitra said it's up to a judge as to whether or not the Handrik will ever own a pet. A judge might completely ban them from housing an animal or limit them to a certain number.
"Our whole position at the SPCA is to support responsible pet ownership.We want everyone to have a pet. Pets bring great joy to people but if people aren't going to do it responsibly that's when we step in," Licitra said.
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