NJ woman kept 44 dead dogs, 100 more living in home, cops say
SHAMONG — A woman with close to 200 living and dead dogs in her home is facing animal cruelty charges after police who responded to the scene reported feeling physically ill.
Donna Roberts, 65, was arrested after police found 44 dead dogs wrapped in plastic bags in freezers, and 130 living dogs found in conditions the State Police described as "deplorable and inhumane."
Col. Patrick Callahan called the condition of the home and the dogs "tragic."
"The odor of animal feces and ammonia permeated the inside of the residence, which caused several of the responders to experience dizziness and nausea," according to the State Police.
Four dogs were determined to be in critical condition and taken to an emergency veterinary clinic. The remaining dogs are being taken to animal shelters around the state.
Roberts told the New York Post that the puppies found in the freezer were stillborn and that she forgot about them after putting them in baggies seven years ago.
"I forgot all about them, they were in the cellar," Roberts told the Post. "They were in a freezer, and that's what breeders do when dogs die. I forgot all about them. They were born dead and I didn't kill them. They're making a big deal out of nothing."
She told the paper that the plan was to send the dogs to a veterinarian in Alabama for autopsies, before she forgot about them. She also told the paper that she plans to fight the charges because she "didn't do anything wrong."
St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center confirmed it is expecting to receive around 50 of the dogs. The Monmouth County SPCA also took in close to 30 of the puppies and dogs, according to Executive Director Ross Licitra.
After coming in yesterday, Licitra said many of the dogs are in surprisingly good shape, considering the conditions they were living in. Some of the dogs are suffering from upper respiratory infections, skin issues and overgrown nails, among other problems.
Licitra said all the dogs at the Tinton Falls location will get full medical care, including being spayed and neutered. He said it will likely take a few weeks until they are ready to be adopted. Until then, he said the organization will be working hard to handle the influx of animals.
"We're always here to take on these types of situations," he said. "We create room where room doesn't exist. We have all hands on deck and we get it done."
The Monmouth County SPCA shared pictures of some of the dog on its Facebook page, in a post that also asked for donations. Licitra said people interested in making donations can do so through the organization's website. The group has started a wish list of items it needs in addition to money. Those items include food, pet beds, paper towels and toys, among others.
The police had been sent to the home to assist county Health Department officials with an animal-related inspection.
"We are appalled by the horrendous conditions these dogs were subjected to, and as a result I authorized charges against the property owner, Donna Roberts," Coffina said.
Roberts has been charged with animal cruelty and released pending a future court date.
Bud McCormick contributed to this report