Woodbridge officials say they're now caring for several sick animals after authorities shut down a St. George's Avenue pet store — having found puppies in cages, without water, filled with feces.

"That they were all sick tells you something was going on," said Dennis Green, director of health and human services for the Township.

The owner of the pet store, Rocco Garruto was arrested Sunday, just days after authorities shut down the shop. He and the shop have a long history of legal problems — including convictions for selling patrons sick and dying puppies in recent years.

On Christmas Eve, the NJSPCA and police obtained an emergency court order to shut down Fancy Pups, weeks after the Woodbridge Health Department ordered a quarantine that authorities say the shop violated. According to the NJSPCA, an inspection earlier in the month found several puppies for sale in cages with no water, filled with feces. Dust and debris filled the St. Georges Avenue store, the group said.

Authorities took possession of 10 dogs at that time, Green said.

Then, on Sunday, the NJSPCA learned a male employee of the store posted on Facebook about the need to adopt three puppies immediately — in violation of the court order, the said.

The puppies were found Sunday evening at a car sales lot owned by Garruto, the NJSPCA said. Again, there was no water in the puppies' cages, it said. Green said authorities took possession of the remaining three dogs as well.

Green said several of the puppies are sick. Of the 10 rescued on Christmas Eve, two went to a rescue service, and two are in a foster home. Another six remain in Woodbridge's animal shelter's care, where they're being treated for giardia — a parasitic infection — and other conditions, Green said.

He expects them all to recover, at which point they'll be moved out of quarantine and eventually by made available for adoption. He expected it would take about 10 to 14 days to treat the animals.

The NJSPCA said it has filed criminal and civil charges for alleged animal cruelty against Garruto and two employees, Sean Wostaka and Jenniver Evans, both of Metuchen. The store's veternarian, Dr.Keith Gordon, was also cited for neglect.

In 2012, Garruto reportedly pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud after the Middlesex County Deptartment of Consumer Affairs charged him with violating the state's 'Puppy Lemon Law" for selling sick animals.

According to a Patch.com report at the time, he'd previous pleaded guilty to four other similar fraud charges. He'd also been sued by a woman to whom he sold a dog that later died.

Authorities are asking anyone who has information on sick animals at Fancy Pups to contact NJSPCA officer Tim Kennedy at 800-05825-979.

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