Nearly 300 small dogs were seized from a home in the Howell Township area of Monmouth County in New Jersey, on Friday.
On Thursday, an animal control officer was called to the scene of the New Jersey home when neighbors complained that one of the dogs had gotten loose. Upon arriving, the Humane Society officer realized there was more going on than just a few loose small dogs. The smell was atrocious.
Eventually, the officer was able to contact the owners of the home and realized the inside of the house was filled with small dogs.
“They called us, and this is what we’ve discovered,” said Ross Licitra, the chief law enforcement officer of the Monmouth County Society department dedicated to the prevention of animal abuse, according to the Asbury Park Press.
It was full day after identifying the problem, before authorities were able to enter the home. The dogs had be evacuated, but there were so many of them in such terrible conditions, that a large number of officials had to be called in to help.
Aside from the Humane Society and the SPCA, the dogs being evacuated were greeted by the township police, the county sheriff’s office, the health department and a hazmat team.
Inside the New Jersey home, authorities found 270 small dogs of various breeds, including: Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Pugs and various mixed-breeds.
The small dogs were found in every nook and cranny of the home. They were sitting on bookshelves, under the beds, and even in the walls.
“They have steps that go up to the shelf and there were dogs looking down and barking,” Tierney Park, a Monmouth Sheriff’s deputy told NBC New York.
The number of dogs found in the home didn’t remain constant throughout the entire rescue, however. One dog gave birth to a litter as authorities were evacuating the other small dogs and there were nearly twenty other dogs that were clearly pregnant.
Originally, Joseph and Charlene Hendricks had told officials that there were only 80 dogs in the home. When questioned about how it all started, they explained that they started with eight dogs and then the animals simply began reproducing until it got out of control.
Most of the small dogs seized were not vaccinated and none of them were spayed or neutered. The authorities set up a triage center in the front yard of the home where they were able to vaccinate roughly one-hundred of the small dogs before they ran out of supplies.
Some of the dogs had to be treated for various issues on site. Many of the newborn puppies were in need of oxygen and significant medical care, but the majority of the dogs were well-fed and in decent condition.
Whether or not the couple will be charged with animal abuse will depend on the medical work-up of the dogs rescued from their home. If the dogs are all in good condition, the couple may get away with paying a fine. If some, or many, of the dogs are found to be in bad condition, the couple responsible may have to face felony animal abuse charges.
“It really depends on the facts and circumstances,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni told the Asbury Park Press when he stopped by the scene earlier in the day.
Licitra added that most of the small dogs rescued were obviously under-socialized and terrified of the outdoors. He speculated that the dogs had never actually seen the outside of the house before.
The Asbury Park Press confronted Joseph Hendricks, asking him how the dogs were allowed to breed so much that it got that out of hand.
“Could you trim it down and not give us so much attention? We’re not bad people,” Hendricks asked. “It’s more than you think.”
To discuss adopting any of the dogs rescued, you can contact the Monmouth County SPCA.
[Photo by Kent Gilbert/AP Images]