Vincent LoSacco, the owner of the troubled Just Pups chain, said the 67 puppies found in a van in back of the Paramus store on Monday were driven legally from Missouri in a custom van — something he said he has done for six years.

Authorities said this week dozens of puppies were found in near-freezing weather, crying, locked in small metal crates, many having defecated on themselves. Tyco Animal Control Services said Tuesday the puppies are part of an ongoing criminal investigation and are not currently available for adoption.

LoSacco told NJ Advance Media store employees were supposed to meet the van at 7 a.m. on Monday morning but didn’t show up. He said its not illegal to leave animals unattended and said the dogs probably defecated on themselves when the van was towed at an angle from the store to a vet.

LoSacco told the news organization he customized the van with the puppies, and said it includes a propane heater. He said the temperature inside the van was cold because police had the door open for quite some time before taking a reading.

"People are passionate about it and rightfully so. We've never abused or neglected our puppies. I myself and the people that work for me love animals and we go to huge extents to take care of them and keep them healthy," NJ Advance Media quoted LoSacco saying.

Police chief Kenneth R. Ehrenberg has said the heard crying and whining noises coming from inside a white, 2002 Freightliner Sprinter van Monday morning. The also detected an odor of urine and feces coming from inside the vehicle, he said.

LoSacco said the Paramus store opened on Tuesday after an inspection by the Paramus Board of Health. On a Facebook page called "The Truth About Just Pups New Jersey," LoSacco said a video would be posted explaining what happened at the Paramus store; he has posted other videos to the page defending against other allegations of abuse.

The Daily Voice of Paramus reported the Emerson location is also facing several violations from an April 4 inspection. Authorities allege there was no approved plan for the store's isolation room, no documentation of training for a veterinarian in infectious disease control, no evidence or documentation of a veterinarian monitoring for infectious disease control, vaccine prescriptions were not provided and the store was missing tile in the front display area. The store was issued a "conditional A" license to operate, the site said.

Tyco Animal Control Services, which took possession of many of the puppies said Tuesday via Facebook its "biggest need at this time is cleaning supplies: Paper towels, bleach wipes, Bleach, laundry detergent, and Lysol spray."

The chain's East Brunswick location was closed down by the East Brunswick Town Council after the location was charged with 267 counts of animal cruelty by the New Jersey SPCA.

Toni Antonelli contributed to this report.

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