PATERSON, N.J. — A dozen dogs were found neglected and matted inside an abandoned home. The dogs, rescued by Paterson Animal Control and Passiac County SPCA teams, are now in the care of Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge.
Shelter workers describe it as one of the worst cases of animal cruelty they’ve ever seen.
“We see matted dogs weekly, we do. I’ve never seen matted dogs like this and certainly not so many of them together. This is the worst case of long-term neglect I think we’ve never seen,” Frannie Laurita, an RBARI worker, said.
Some of the dogs had to be taken to the hospital to be sedated because their conditions were so bad, RBARI volunteer Linda Roseman said. One dog was covered in feces and he couldn't walk.
Roseman was lovingly grooming one of the dogs while PIX11 was there.
“What I’m trying to do is basically introduce her to things she’s never seen before," Roseman said. "She probably has never been on a table, never seen any of this equipment, so we’re gonna go as slow as we can. When we bathe them, I might get in the tub with them so it’s less stress as possible."
The dogs were rescued Tuesday from an abandoned home on 17th Avenue in Paterson. A neighbor called Animal Control after hearing barking.
“We walked around the house and you could hear the dogs barking and the stench you can smell it from the outside, you see flies by the window. We cracked the window open to look inside and sure enough, there were these beautiful creatures in small cages matted, in feces, in urine,” Paterson Chief Animal Control Officer John DeCando said.
The pups were kept four to a cage in a cage size that barely fits one. Food was left in the house but out of reach of the dogs. It’s not known how long they’ve been in this particular abandoned property.
“Any animal abuse is horrible. There’s no such thing as bad animals, there’s bad people in the world,” Off. DeCando said.
The team at Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge say some of the dogs had to be sent to the vet to be further examined. Blood testing will be done for any internal issues. The extent of neglect is not days, or weeks, but a lifetime.
“This is staining from a long time of neglect these dogs have been living in their own waste for a long time and that takes a while to come out,” Laurita said as she pointed out one dog’s paws.
The goal at RBARI is to get them healthy enough where they’re adoptable. If you’re interested you may fill out an application at the shelter’s website. RBARI is a private organization that doesn’t get any state funding. They’re also looking for donations to help care for the dogs.
“Some of them are in shock right now. The mats on either side of them are heavier and bigger than the dogs themselves. In our experience, it’s the emotional scars that last longer,” Laurita said.
Laurita believes some of the dogs may be related. They’ve not been given names yet but the team at RBARI have decided to name them after characters in the Muppet Show. They’re waiting to get to know the pups, and their personalities.
A criminal investigation is underway. Right now, it’s not clear who owns the home. It may also be the case, the suspects don’t have any affiliation with the home. Officer DeCando tells PIX11 the person or people responsible for neglecting the dogs are facing very serious charges.
“You’re talking at least 50 counts animal cruelty.”