PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork)– Two police officers discovered nearly 70 puppies cramped in small crates in a van behind a pet shop in New Jersey.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the store owner was already facing hundreds of animal cruelty charges.
Officials originally said there were about 50 puppies. However, Oradell Animal Hospital spokeswoman Nancy Miles confirmed to 1010 WINS that there were ultimately 67 dogs counted.
Miles said there were some terriers and golden retrievers and that they seemed to be very young, around six to eight weeks old. At least 15 of the dogs needed medical attention.
“They appear to have some sort of a puppy virus and they are suffering from some vomiting and diarrhea,” Miles said.
Two Paramus police officers were conducting routine checks in the area around 3 a.m. Monday when they came across the white van in the Just Pups parking lot. The cops heard crying and whining coming from inside and smelled a strong smell of urine and feces coming from the vehicle.
Inside the van, they saw several small metal crates holding two to four puppies each. Temperatures lingered around 35 degrees early Monday morning and the officers said a space heater in the back of the vehicle was ineffective without proper ventilation.
The police said the crates were so small that some of the dogs could not even stand and that many of the crates did not contain food or water.
“I think it’s terrible. I think it’s just disgusting,” Karen Maffei said. “They shouldn’t be left in a van. It was freezing out last night. They could have died.”
Officials ran the tags and found that the van belonged to the owner of Just Pups.
There were still dozens of puppies inside the Paramus store, which was shut down by the Bergen County Health Department. A handwritten sign taped to the store said it has been closed until Wednesday.
The incident is currently being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Animal Cruelty Task Force and Paramus Health Department.
CBS2 tried to locate the store’s owner Vincent LoSacco, at his Emerson store, but he was not there.
LoSacco did post a video on Facebook after he was hit with 269 animal cruelty charges after three dead dogs were found in a freezer at his now closed East Brunswick store.
“Every pet store has sick dogs. We don’t make them sick. They get sick,” he said.
The store’s slogan is “Happy, Healthy Puppies” but they have also posted a warning saying “all payments are 100 percent nonrefundable, and puppies are not returnable.”