Puppies in freezer? ‘Just Pups’ owner denies 267 cruelty charges (VIDEO)
The owner of Just Pups in East Brunswick defended himself against to 267 counts of animal cruelty filed against him by the NJ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by way of a video posted to his store website and YouTube.
Sitting at a desk, LoSacco, 50, said one of the quarantines issued by the Middlesex County Board of Health was prompted by an outbreak of kennel cough among the puppies "and there were more puppies that needed medication and treatment than could fit into the isolation room." He denied co-mingling healthy and sick puppies — a key allegation in many of the charges.
The NJSCA charged LoSacco on Monday in 40 separate summonses with fines that could top $100,000. Among the allegations was that the remains of three dead dogs were found in a freezer.A temporary restraining order was also granted by East Brunswick Municipal Court to prevent the store from opening until further notice.
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.
LoSacco in his video said the number of counts was so high because the NJSPCA inspector counted one dog times 20. He said that although five or six inspectors were in the store in January and February, only one wrote the summonses.
He identified the inspector as Denyel Cusimano. He alleges that the agent is "on record as telling the veterinarian in town that I use to help me with my puppies" that her goal "was to close down my East Brunswick store permanently." LoSacco claims that the agent told one of the store's employees that "she was after the owner."
He said summonses made by the agent were all written on Feb. 25 and 26 for incidents she witnesses in January. Given the seriousness of her allegations, he asked, "If this officer had witnessed these events on Jan. 22, Feb. 1 and Feb. 5 and thought there were people in my store were capable of causing bodily harm and death to animals ... why would she wait until Feb. 25 and 26 to just casually sit down and write out summonses for 267 criminal offenses?"
"Neither myself nor any of my staff in East Brunswick nor any of my staff anywhere has ever committed any acts of cruelty or neglect to any of the pups in my store," LoSacco said. LoSacco said he doubted the agent actually witnessed any cruelty in the store.
LoSacco said that if she "truly witnessed abuse of animals and did nothing to enforce the law to protect them, then "she is in dereliction of her duty as an NJSPCA (inspector) and she should be terminated and charged with the criminal offensives she's charging me with. You can't have it both ways."
Photos provided to New Jersey 101.5 show a dog named Gwen found emaciated in a cage at Just Pups. A source with knowledge of the case said that when Gwen was found her ribs and spine were prominent. Her skin condition was described as "poor, showing signs of dehydration." The dog was extremely short of breath and mucous could be felt in her lungs, the source said. Gwen was not able to stand or lift her head, according to the source.
NJSPCA spokesman Matt Stanton in an email that he had not watched LoSacco's video and would not be drawn into a fight in the media.
"All of these issues will be dealt with in court. If he wants to argue this case in the public domain that is his right," he said.
LoSacco's court hearing scheduled for Monday has reportedly been postponed.