SCOTCH PLAINS — More than 130 dogs and cats have been rescued after police said they busted an illegal puppy mill being run out of a private home in the township.

Township resident Dominick Ciabattari, 60, faces 10 fourth-degree charges and four misdemeanors. All of the charges were related to failure to properly care for the animals, some of which were pregnant, along with others that have been diagnosed with severe dental injuries, severe dehydration, infection and other conditions, police said.

Additional charges are expected, pending veterinary records being received, Acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay Ruotolo said Wednesday.

The investigation marked the single largest seizure of at-risk animals in Union County since New Jersey's strengthened animal cruelty prevention law went into effect in January 2018. The law requires that every county prosecutor establish an animal cruelty task force to be responsible for animal welfare within the county.

Police responded Monday to Ciabattari's home on the corner of Terrill Road and Laurie Court after receiving a tip that conditions inside were unsafe and unsanitary for humans and animals.

Authorities recovered a total of 132 dogs and cats, ranging in age from newborns to fully grown adults, police said.

Of those animals, roughly two dozen were cats, some of them kittens.

The remainder were several breeds of dogs — 71 Chihuahuas, 18 golden retrievers, 17 Pomeranians and 3 Pekingese.

Police said the dogs and cats were kept in unsanitary conditions, many locked in cages around the clock in a loud, stressful environment, with no outdoor activity. Evidence also was recovered that pointed to "unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine was taking place on site," Ruotolo said in a written statement.

Members of the prosecutor's Animal Cruelty Task Force responded and the animals were taken to more than a dozen local shelters in New Jersey.

Two of the dogs rescued from an illegal puppy mill in Scotch Plains, taken to St. Hubert's (courtesy St. Huberts Animal Welfare Center)

Nearly 40 of the dogs and cats were brought to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, according to St. Hubert's spokeswoman Diane Ashton.

She said puppies, kittens and several pregnant animals are among those being cared for and medically evaluated.

"In the coming days, St. Hubert’s will help these pets find the safe, loving homes they deserve," she said.

Another 19 of the dogs were taken by Ramapo Bergen Animal Rescue, including a mother Pomeranian and her 6 puppies, according to RBARI Communications Manager Amy Hofer. RBARI sent 7 of the dogs to Oradell Animal Hospital for "supportive care and monitoring."

Ramapo Bergen Animal Rescue took 19 dogs, including two mothers and puppies, from the Scotch Plains puppy mill bust (courtesy RBARI)

Anyone interested in adopting any of the pets can contact one of the following shelters:
-Plainfield Area Humane Society (Plainfield)
-St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center (Madison)
-Best Friend Dog and Animal Adoption(Scotch Plains)
-Traveling Paws(Cranford)
-Jersey Pits Rescue (Garwood)
-All Star Pet Rescue (Linden)
-Brendan’s Meadows Rescue (Mountainside)
-Castle of Dreams Animal Rescue (Aberdeen)
-A Pathway to Hope (Hawthorne)
-Montclair Township Animal Shelter (Montclair)
-Second Chance Pet Adoption League (Oak Ridge)
-Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge(Oakland)
-Rescue Ridge (Spring Lake)

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