MADISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Questions were mounting Thursday about how a New Jersey pet store owner was still in business, after being accused of keeping puppies in horrible conditions.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, police said they found 67 puppies in an unattended van behind the Just Pups store in Paramus early Monday.READ MORE: 12-Year-Old Child Shot In Chest In Brooklyn
Police said it was 38 degrees in the van, and some dogs had no food or water and were covered in feces.
Animal lovers on Thursday were wondering why any of owner Vincent LoSacco’s stores were still open. They were outraged to see puppies still being sold at the Just Pups location in Emerson and its sister store in East Hanover.
LoSacco already has forced to shut down his pet stores in East Brunswick and Paramus because of allegations of animal cruelty and neglect.
“It’s horrible — just the conditions these animals were in,” a woman said as she protested Thursday. “It’s deplorable.”
LoSacco had his business license revoked in Middlesex County in February, but despite facing 269 charges of animal abuse and 400 summonses for his Paramus store, he is still allowed to operate a store in Morris County.
“The system is broken,” said Heather Cammisa of St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison.READ MORE: Police: Mike Kushnir Arrested In Connection To Stabbing Death Of 17-Year-Old Gerado Rivas In Washington Heights
Cammisa, whose organization helps rescue neglected animals from pet shops, said part of the problem is the lack of a statewide pet store license in New Jersey. Each municipality issues its own license, and thus, if one county revokes an owner’s license, that person can set up shop in the next county over.
“We don’t have requirements of reporting across all different areas, and state officials are stretched thin,” Cammisa said. “There’s only so much time for people to look up and research owners. There isn’t a centralized database.”
There is something New Jersey communities can do to stop the potential abuse of animals in pet stores with legislation in the books right now, as Sanchez reported.
The current state law says municipalities can initiate local ordinances prohibiting pet stores from selling dogs and cats altogether. A total of 31 municipalities in New Jersey – including Hoboken, Brick Township and Manasquan – have initiated their own bans on pet store puppy sales.
“Secondly there’s legislation in Trenton right now that we would like to move that bans statewide the commercial sale of animals,” Cammisa said.
Cammisa said reputable breeders and rescue operations would not be affected by the proposed law. She is hoping it puts an end to abusive puppy mill sales.MORE NEWS: New Jersey Family Finds Father's Missing Cell Phone Nearly 6 Years After Crash That Took His Life
Meanwhile, police and prosecutors have been investigating LoSacco’s Emerson and East Hanover stores. LoSacco closed his pet store in Valhalla, New York, in February after the state declined to renew his license.