New Jersey

Couple Who Had 276 Dogs in ‘Worst Hoarding Situation' New Jersey County Had Seen Plead Guilty

Most of the dogs were in fairly good health despite the deplorable conditions and neglect, authorities said

What to Know

  • The house raised suspicions from an Associated Humane Society official as he investigated a report of a dog on the loose in June
  • When he walked by the home, he smelled a foul odor
  • No one answered the door there, but he heard dogs barking inside and notified SPCA

A husband and wife who faced more than 500 counts of animal cruelty after 276 dogs were found in their New Jersey home in what one official described as "the worst hoarding situation" Monmouth County had ever seen have pleaded guilty. 

A municipal judge on Wednesday ordered Joseph and Charlene Handrik of Howell Township to pay $25,000 in fines and penalties.

Under terms of a plea agreement, they must undergo a psychological evaluation that would have to show that they are not inclined to hoard animals if they ever want to have any more pets. 

Their lawyer Raymond Raya says they were not mean-spirited. Raya says her husband got Charlene Handrik six dogs when she became disabled and the couple acquired more dogs and the pets began breeding. 

The hoarding came to light in June. 

Animal advocates said that despite deplorable conditions and clear neglect, the dogs were in relatively good health. All but about a dozen of the 276 dogs have been adopted.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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