🙀 Rescuers spent 10 hours removing 135 dogs and 45 cats from deplorable conditions in a Brick residence

🚨 The homeowners were arrested and charged with animal cruelty and child endangerment

🐶 Shelter officials will determine on Monday how the public can help


BRICK — Most of the 180 dogs and cats removed from "horrible and inhumane conditions" on Friday night and Saturday morning are being cared for at the county animal facilities.

Brick police with the help of several law enforcement agencies, including the Berkeley Township hazardous material unit, and animal care facilities from around the shore removed 135 dogs and 45 cats from the house on Arrowhead Park Drive. Two of the dogs were dead and eight animals required emergency care.

Aimee Lonczak, 49, and Michele Nycz, 59, the homeowners who also run a nonprofit rescue called Crazy Rescue Ladies, are behind held at the Ocean County Jail on cruelty to animal and child endangerment charges.

The Ocean County Emergency Preparedness facility in Barnegat is housing 100 animals with the rest at the county’s two other facilities in Jackson and Stafford, according to Ocean County public health coordinator Dan Regyne. The facility cared for 225 displaced pets after Superstorm Sandy and is well staffed with plenty of room to house the animals from Brick without concern about overcrowding

"We are certainly in a very good position and we're fortunate that we have a facility that not only can house dogs and cats but during Sandy we housed birds, snakes, iguanas. You name the pet, and we had it at that facility with those that were affected by Sandy," Regyne told New Jersey 101.5.

Brick house where 180 dogs and cats were removed 12/3/22
Brick house where 180 dogs and cats were removed 12/3/22 (Kimberly Price Astringer)

Giving up their weekend to help

Several veterinarians and a number of volunteers provided care and treatment for the animals on Sunday, including getting them up-to-date on their shots and dealing with fleas and worms. Some of the staff came back from vacation or on their scheduled day off in the overnight hours to prepare the shelter to receive the animals.

Regyne said four or five of the eight animals requiring emergency care recovered and were brought to the Ocean County facility.

"There's a lot of work in kind of washing these animals down, getting them healthy. Some had to be shaven because their fur was so matted. It was nice to actually get a lot of folks down there volunteering their time today helping walking them and just putting them into the larger outdoor pens letting them just run around," Regyne said. "It was just great to see them running in that large open space. They were very happy and just playing fetch with the with a ball and things of that nature."

Regyne said the animals are under the care of the county shelter but not has yet taken possession of animals. Depending on the legal proceedings against Lonczak and Nycz, the animals could be turned over to them as soon as this week.

"I saw probably at least 140 of the 175 that came into our facility. They're really just wonderful animals, they really are. They are very engaging and very friendly and I think after a little bit of time and socialization, if they get to that point where they're ours and we put them up for adoption, I think they're going to make great pets. You have some that are very small, you have some that are larger. It's really a nice mix of different dogs and cats," Regyne said.

Aimee Lonzczak, Michele Nycz
Aimee Lonzczak, Michele Nycz (Ocean County Jail)

A hold on donations for now

Regyne said it was great to see people come to all the facilities with unsolicited donations of food and supplies and come together to help the animals. Some of the animals were in such rough shape that items like towels and blankets could only be used once.

However, they are putting a hold on it for now. The staff will meet on Monday to determine just what is needed and organize an effort for donations of supplies and money.

"We do try to be specific on types of food because we try to feed the dogs the same type of food. That way if there's a reaction or something, it's easier for the animal staff and animal care staff and the veterinarian to kind of pinpoint things of that nature," Regyne said.

Associated Humane Popcorn Park Shelter Animal Control Officer Maria Cymanski described a horrific scene and said on their Facebook page her staff helped remove animals from a "life of pure hell." She said that is worse than most other similar situations she's been involved with.

"With every breath that we could barely take, we felt strengthened, knowing that we were going to change the lives of these animals, and let them finally breathe fresh air, sleep on a clean blanket, and finally, go to a good place that they could call home," Cymanski said.

Photo courtesy Patch

AHS Animal Control Officers: Maria Cymanski, Javier Vargas, and Luis Mercado
AHS Animal Control Officers: Maria Cymanski, Javier Vargas, and Luis Mercado (Associated Humane Popcorn Park Shelter)

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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