HOWELL TOWNSHIP, N.J (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of dogs were rescued from a home in Howell Township on Friday, according to police.
Monmouth County police discovered the dogs living in inhumane conditions at a home on Bennett Road.
As CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported, some of them were born just minutes before they were saved.
Most of the dogs are of smaller breeds like pugs, Yorkies, and Chihuahuas.
The Monmouth County SPCA says 276 dogs were removed from the home on Friday.
“A total of 276 dogs were living inside this house,” said Chief Ross Licitra of the Monmouth County SPCA.
All day long, dogs wrapped in blankets or in crates were carried out by volunteers in masks and HazMat gear.
Some of the dogs were giving birth as authorities arrived, and the newborn pups needed oxygen tanks.
It’s believed the couple living in the home started bringing the dogs in three years ago, and the situation spiraled out of control. They could face animal cruelty charges.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the dogs appeared frightened with dirty, matted coats as they were being taken out of the house.
“What we have here is an extreme case of hoarding,” Licitra said.
Licitra said it could be the worst case of animal hoarding in New Jersey history.
“They were everywhere, and anywhere. Just everywhere you looked they were hiding in crevices. They were under furniture,” he said.
Two of the dogs needed to be hospitalized, one newborn puppy was getting oxygen — it may have been crushed by a piece of furniture.
“We found the puppy barely breathing so we rushed it to Red Bank Animal Hospital, the other dog had a broken leg,” Licitra said.
Suzanna DeGrande has lived right across the street for years and complained about the smell.
“It was very putrid,” she said.
The dogs’ owner, Charlene Hutchins, paced and smoked as rescuers carted the animals away. She wouldn’t say anything, but is facing a long list of animal cruelty charges.
“I thought there was something strange going on, because she never comes out of the house,” DeGrande said.
Last month a neighbor reported a loose dog, and the humane society came to check the house, but what the found Thursday night stunned everyone.
“You could notice a smell, but you never really thought there could be that many animals,” neighbor Beth Applegate said, “You don’t know what goes on in somebody’s house. You don’t know what’s going on in their life.”
Conybeare also asked a man who answered the door at the house where the dogs were found if he had any comment. The man just said, “Get out of here.”
According to a post on the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, the dogs were taken to a triage area where they were vaccinated and chipped.
The dogs will be transferred to the Monmouth County SPCA or St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center for further care, police said.
After being checked out all of the dogs will be put up for adoption.