The owners of a New Jersey pet store are facing animal cruelty charges that accuse them of transporting 67 puppies in small, filthy cages with inadequate access to food and water.
Vincent LoSacco, 50, owner of Just Pups in Paramus, and his brother Leonard LoSacco, 51, left the puppies in a near-freezing van on April 4 parked behind their store, said Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal in announcing the charges Wednesday.
Paramus police officers spotted the van at about 3 a.m. and rescued the puppies. The temperature inside the van was measured at 38 degrees, Grewal said.
When officers approached the van, they heard dogs whining and smelled an odor of urine and feces coming from the vehicle.
They opened an unlocked door, saw the dogs covered in feces and called animal control. Fifteen dogs needed medical attention.
The LoSacco brothers were each charged with 134 counts of animal cruelty.
Investigators determined that Leonard LoSacco had driven the van from Missouri where he had picked up the puppies. The trip lasted several days.
Vincent LoSacco denied police accusations that the puppies were cruelly treated. The van was insulated and the crates inside were large, he said. The temperature was taken while the door had been open for a while, he argued. The puppies were fed three times a day during the trip, he added.
He attributed the filthy condition of some of the puppies to the way the van was towed to a veterinarian hospital, as ordered by police.
In late February, Vincent LoSacco was charged with 267 counts of animal cruelty for alleged poor conditions at the East Brunswick outpost of the store. The location later had its business license revoked by the town.
Reached after those charges were filed, LoSacco said they were baseless and that an officer who issued him the summons has a personal vendetta against him. He later posted a video to Facebook saying he had been unfairly targeted.