NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Nearly 50 dogs started the day cold, hungry and infested with fleas, but by Wednesday night, they were clean, well-fed and warm at a New Jersey animal shelter.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the dogs were removed from a North Bergen home where officials said they were living in “deplorable” conditions.

Police and Animal Control officials went to the two-story home on Wednesday after the tenant allegedly failed to appear in court on a series of summonses that were issued in recent weeks.

According to officials, 32 adult dogs, 17 puppies and five cats were removed from the home.

Around 20 dogs were rescued from a home in North Bergen, NJ, on Jan. 13, 2016. (Credit: Tony Aiello/CBS2)

Dogs and cats were rescued from a home in North Bergen, NJ, on Jan. 13, 2016. (Credit: Tony Aiello/CBS2)

Upon their removal, the puppies were friendly and frisky. But the older dogs were so frightened that many refused to walk and had to be carried away.

“It’s overwhelming and they don’t know what to do, and so they freeze,” said animal rescuer Lorraine Healy.

Healy said some of the 49 dogs had never been outside the filthy house, located at 132 Hillcrest Rd. in North Bergen.

The dogs all appear to be Labradors, or Labrador mixes, Aiello reported. Some of the dogs had cuts or scratches on their bodies. According to officials, rescuers had to help coax some the frightened cats from off of the roof.

Another 11 cats were dead inside the house, and one dog was also dead.

Officials said the home was on their radar for some time, after receiving multiple calls from neighbors complaining about animal noise, terrible smells coming from the house and concerns for the animals’ welfare.

“Pretty horrendous — it’s uninhabitable by humans,” said Jeff Santini of New Jersey Animal Control and Rescue. “And the dogs were all over the place with feces and urine.”

According to Santini, the owner of the home was seen on the property three days ago, but his presence there has been sporadic since.

“The sound is chilling when they all bark at once,” added Carol Del Forno. “It’s chilling.”

Del Forno was one of the many neighbors who complained about the noise and smell emanating from the house. Rescuers had to wear face masks as they went in, and some even had to put a dab of menthol compound right under their noses to mask the horrible smell.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Healy said. “I mean, these are companion animals that are treated like trash.”

Investigators said the tenant in the house, Juan Perez, will face numerous charges for mistreating animals.

The good news is that the dogs are skittish, but sweet-tempered. Already Wednesday night, a half dozen rescue groups were working to get them healthy.

“Eyes, ears, nose, mouth – we’re de-fleaing them right away because they are covered in fleas,” said Vince Ascolese of Bergen County Protect & Rescue.

All of the animals will be taken to no-kill shelters to be put up for adoption, Aiello reported.

For information about adopting the animals, visit

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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