EMERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There were new protests Tuesday against a New Jersey pet store owner who faces hundreds of charges of animal abuse.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported exclusively, CBS2 has been following the story of Vincent LoSacco and his Just Pups stores for some time. Some of the charges against him stemmed from an infamous incident in April in which 67 puppies were found unattended inside a cold van behind one of his stores.
On Tuesday, CBS2 was demanding answers about why LoSacco is still selling puppies.
“Sold” signs on dog cages showed Tuesday that LoSacco was still busy making sales in Emerson, New Jersey – even though he does not have a license to do so now. A crowd protesting outside wanted the disgraced pet shop owner to close.
“This man is open for business with no license,” a protester said. “He’s breaking the law.”
LoSacco’s license to operate in Emerson expired on Thursday, June 30. He applied for a renewal the day before, and told CBS2 by phone that it was the borough clerk’s fault for delaying the licensing process.
But Emerson Mayor Louis Lamatina said LoSacco is the only one to blame.
“We are contemplating what our next step is, because we don’t appreciate someone simply defying our borough ordinance and the state statute,” Lamatina said, “so we don’t really intend to let him get away with this.”
CBS2 obtained copies of letters the borough sent to LoSacco in May and June, urging him to apply for renewal by a June 6 deadline. He had two opportunities to go before the borough council for approval, and never showed up, the mayor said.
“He had every opportunity to be heard either on the 14th or the 28th,” Lamatina said. “He made a conscious decision to avoid coming to mayor and council.”
When CBS2’s Sanchez requested to interview LoSacco, he said he would only talk on camera if Sanchez agreed to sign an agreement promising not to mention hundreds of charges of animal cruelty he is facing from past inspections of Just Pups stores.
LoSacco was forced to shut down his stores in East Brunswick and Paramus after he was charged with more than 400 counts of animal cruelty, including allegedly keeping the puppies in the cold van.
But when asked why he cannot close the store, Lamatina said, “The borough doesn’t have the authority to shut him down.”
A municipal court case can close Just Pups if it is a danger to public health and safety. But health inspectors recently gave LoSacco a satisfactory rating.
Lamantia said the borough is considering its legal options in Superior Court to shutter LoSacco’s operation.
LoSacco’s license renewal application will be considered by the Emerson borough council on July 12.