SCOTCH PLAINS — A 19-year-old township resident has been charged with animal cruelty amid accusations that he severely neglected three pets, two of which died.

Plainfield police recovered the body of a severely gaunt pit bull, found dumped in a plastic bag along Rock Avenue on Nov. 3, Acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay Ruotolo said.

With help from the Plainfield Area Humane Society, investigators identified Aiden R. Turso as owner of the dead dog, named Cinnamon, as well as another emaciated dog, named Jax, which was surrendered to the shelter, she said.

A third animal under the young man’s care, a cat named Buddy, was euthanized in December after being brought to a veterinarian in a “comatose state, also emaciated and covered in fleas,” according to police.

Turso was facing two counts each of third-degree failure to provide necessary care to an animal, leading to its death, as well as fourth-degree animal cruelty offenses. He also was charged with fourth-degree hindering apprehension.

Turso had an initial appearance set for Friday morning in Union County Superior Court.

If convicted of the third-degree charges, he could face up to three to five years in state prison.

“We hope these charges send a clear message to anyone who needs to hear it – this sort of conduct isn’t just wrong, it’s criminal,” Ruotolo said.

Jax, who appears to be a black lab mix, was being made available for adoption as of late Tuesday, according to Plainfield Area Humane Society shelter manager, Taylor Mockler.

The dog has gained some weight back after being surrendered in mid-January and has maintained a sweet disposition despite his treatment, she said to New Jersey 101.5.

Mockler said that she was among those who recovered the dead dog's body, back in the fall.

She said that Cinnamon had been micro-chipped, which is what helped lead police to Turso.

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