Scotch Plains

More Than 130 Animals Rescued From Suspected NJ Puppy Mill: Police

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What to Know

  • More than 130 dogs and cats were rescued from a suspected breeding operation in New Jersey on Monday, according to Scotch Plains police and St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center
  • Nearly 40 animals, a mix of dogs and cats, were brought to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison including puppies, kittens and several pregnant animals
  • Authorities continue to investigate

More than 130 dogs and cats were rescued from a suspected breeding operation in New Jersey on Monday, according to Scotch Plains police and St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center.

Nearly 40 of these animals, a mix of dogs and cats, were brought to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison including puppies, kittens and several pregnant animals. Some of the maladies the animals are dealing with include dental injuries, severe dehydration, infection, ocular discharge and more.

When investigators arrived at the home after receiving an anonymous tip, they found the pets kept in unsanitary conditions, with many locked in cages around the clock in a loud room with no outdoor activity.

"You can’t actually imagine what the sound of more than 100 animals is like until you hear it, to say nothing of the smell," said Union County prosecutor Lyndsay Ruotolo.

The animals are being evaluated and will receive medical treatment if needed. The man accused of operating the puppy mill, Dominick Ciabattari, faces multiple charges relating to failing to provide proper care for the animals. Additional charges are expected to be filed.

"Cages literally everywhere, in the kitchen in the closet in the basement where the majority were," said Scotch Plains Police Chief Ted Conley, who added that neighbors couldn't hear anything because mattresses were used to soundproof the walls.

According to the Humane Society of the United States - NJ, nearly 140 New Jersey towns have passed anti-puppy mill ordinances to protect consumers and animals. 

St. Hubert’s will help these pets find the safe homes. The animals taken from the home include 71 chihuahuas, 18 golden retrievers, 17 pomeranians and 3 pekingese.

Prosecutors believe the mill may have been in operation since November, but an investigation is ongoing.

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