More than 60 dogs and cats have been removed from a filthy New Jersey home where officials say that the animals there were living in poor and despicable conditions. On Wednesday, officials were called to a two-story home on Hillcrest Place in North Bergen because the tenant failed to appear in court on a variety of summonses that have been issued to him in just recent weeks.
According to WABC-TV, officers responded to the scene after receiving a telephone call from a concerned neighbor who said that the owner of the property hasn't been seen or heard from for quite some time.
North Bergen Police Sergeant David Dowd said that officers arrived on the scene and discovered that the front door was open and dogs were running around inside the two-story building. There were no obvious signs of abuse to the animals, but there was evidence of neglect.
According to NBC New York, the inside of the home was covered in nothing but urine and feces. Plus, the home did not have any furniture whatsoever. Also, even though the dogs haven't been given any food or water lately, officials say that they were in pretty good shape.Authorities have removed 33 dogs, 17 puppies, two cats, and three kittens, all of which were found alive. Sadly, one dog and 11 cats were dead and were promptly taken from the home in garbage bags. When they were getting rescued, the majority of the puppies were very friendly and frisky. However, the older dogs were so terrified that they refused to walk and had to be carried away by rescue workers.
"It's overwhelming and they don't know what to do, and so they freeze," said animal rescuer Lorraine Healy.
According to Healy, some of the 49 dogs have never gone outside the home, which is located at 132 Hillcrest Rd in North Bergen. Some of the dogs had some minor scratches or cuts on their bodies. In regards to the cats, rescuers had to get some of the scared kitties off the roof.
Carol Delforno, one of the neighbors who first reported the matter to the authorities, said that the negligence of the animals has been ongoing since last summer.
"When they all start barking at once, it was chilling," she said. "The stench has just been progressively getting worse."
"The house is deplorable," animal cruelty investigator Geoffrey Santini said. "There's urine and feces everywhere, the beds were covered with... the animals took over the house. So that's why it's a hoarding case. There might be some mental illness. But the most important thing is we're worrying about the animals' welfare and the humane treatment of them, get them out of here to no-kill shelters."
Police are currently investigating and are referring the incident as a "hoarding" case. In the meantime, a warrant has been issued for Juan Perez, who will be charged with numerous counts for neglecting innocent animals. According to Santini, the owner was last seen on the property three days ago but hasn't been around since.
The majority of the Labrador puppies have already been placed with the Bergen County Protect and Rescue, an animal rescue shelter based in Cliffside Park.
"It's one of the largest ones we've ever done," rescue center worker Vinny Ascolese said. "Despite the conditions they were found in, the 49 dogs are doing well."
Once their health is completely restored, they will all be placed up for adoption. Anyone who is interested in adopting the animals can do so by visiting the Bergen County Protect and Rescue website at bcrescues.org. Or you can also reach the North Bergen Health Department by calling (201) 392-2085.
[Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images]