The man accused of keeping 67 puppies in a near-freezing van sought to clear his name at a press conference Wednesday, but was interrupted by a self-described animal lover who works near his New Jersey puppy store.
"You come here and you breed these dogs in disgusting conditions," the man who interrupted the press conference said outside the Just Pups store in Paramus. "And you make a living doing it. You should be ashamed of yourself."
"Not true," said Vincent LoSacco, who owns four Just Pups stores in New Jersey.
"This is a puppy mill business," the protester countered. "What this guy is doing is taking animals that are kept in very small cages...they're not taking good care of the animals."
LoSaccoo, who was charged 267 counts of animal cruelty in Febuary and accused of leaving 67 puppies in a near-freezing van this week, then addressed the allegations against him.
"They were in a customized van that was fully insulated and fully heated," he said about the dogs that police allege were kept in a van with a temperature just above the freezing mark.
"The temperature wasn't taken until the door was open for who knows how long," LoSacco said.
LoSacco then told reporters the puppies inside the van were provided adequate space, food and water and were not in any danger when they were kept in the van Monday morning. He also denied he broke any law by keeping the dogs in the van.
"Those charges are all bogus," said LoSacco. "I'm going to be exonerated."
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force is investigating.
LoSacco was charged with 267 counts of animal cruelty in late February for alleged poor conditions at the East Brunswick outpost of the store. The location later had its business license revoked by the town.
In Emerson, where a third Just Pups store is located, LoSacco was cited on four violations for his store there, according to Mayor Louis Lamitina. LoSacco has two weeks to correct them.
The dogs found in the van were checked out at Oradell Animal Hospital, and half checked out healthy, officials say. Four remain in the hospital with a stomach bug and kennel cough.
"The conditions were nowhere near adequate, and they were all pretty much crammed together in dirty cages," said veterinarian Dr. Matthew Grootenboer. "It's not hard to imagine they would've gotten sick."
Hundreds of people have called Oradell to adopt the puppies, staffers there say. But the puppies are not yet available for adoption as the investigation continues.