An East Brunswick pet store has been forced to close, through a temporary restraining order filed Monday by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
East Brunswick Municipal Court Judge Robyn K. Brown granted the order to close Just Pups, after NJSPCA filed a whopping 267 animal cruelty complaints against the shop. An inspection culminated in officials finding three dead dogs being kept in a freezer in the store.
According to the East Brunswick Patch, Just Pups owner Vincent LoSacco, 50, may not have seen the end of the trouble just yet. Officials say that he jeopardized the lives of dogs by bringing in sick puppies, exposing the entire community of animals within his store. He sold sick dogs to customers who took them home, where they later died. Others that were sold were deemed by veterinarians to be ill and not fit for sale.
The three dead dogs were sent to the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture for a necropsy.
State officials named some of the charges filed against LoSacco:
- Failure to prevent the spread of infection at his East Brunswick store.
- Failure to provide proper veterinary care.
- Allowing sick puppies to mingle with new puppies.
The illnesses ran unchecked. Puppies were exposed to giardia, distemper, upper respiratory infections, and other infectious diseases. The state said that humans too were at risk to contract some of these parasites and illnesses.
Just Pups is located on Rt. 18 North in East Brunswick, and has been under scrutiny for some time by state officials. Besides the East Brunswick store, LoSacco owns and operates four other pet shops in New Jersey: in Paramus, East Hanover, and Emerson. The Patch reports that SPCA President Steve Shatkin expects more animal cruelty charges to be filed.
“We are dealing with a fairly large population of animals at multiple locations. I cannot stress enough, this is an ongoing investigation.”
The animal cruelty charges filed against LoSacco carry fines of about $100,000.
My Central Jersey reported that the NJSPCA has been working on this case since January 22. They were in cooperation with the Middlesex County Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Health. Since January, Middlesex County and the state temporarily shut down the store on four separate occasions.
LoSacco told My Central Jersey that the puppies receive adequate care.
“All of our dogs get more than enough food, water and veterinarian care. Just like humans, they can get sick.”
He added that all the stores will “proactively” treat dogs when they get sick, and the store policy is to offer customers 14 days of free medical care with the store’s designated veterinarian.
— Bergen County News (@BergenCtyNews) March 2, 2016
Some of LoSacco’s customers posted reviews on Yelp.
“Perhaps the most disgusting puppy or pet store for that manner I have ever walked into. The odor of feces hits you like a punch in the face the moment you walk in.”
Another customer wrote, “Before you think of buying anything here call the NJ SPCA and ask about this location. We had to put our dog down since he couldn’t recover from pneumonia. All the dogs are from Puppy Mills in MO – just look at where every pet is from – Same state, same breeder, same operation – all neglected dogs. You can’t get a puppy closer to death than at this chain!
“I do feel sorry for the puppies, but if you buy from a puppy mill they will just make five more with that money.”
A hearing date has been set for March 7 at 9:00 a.m.
The current restraining order will remain in effect until further notice. A voice recording at the store said it was closed for “interior improvements.”
[Image via SOMMAI/Shutterstock]