North Jersey animal rescue pleads with police to stop plans for shooting range near shelter dogs

HOPATCONG, N.J. — One Step Closer Animal Rescue wants police to consider a different location for their shooting range that is further away from their already rattled rescue dogs.

"We rescue a lot of dogs that are abused, a lot that are really scared,” said Cassie Prisco, president of O.S.C.A.R. "And we’re really worried how they will react to it. Most of them are afraid of loud noises.”

Prisco said to imagine how your dog reacts when it’s the Fourth of July and fireworks are going off nearby. She’s fearful of how already shaky dogs like German shepherd “Little Girl", 5, will cope.

“She is very, very fearful when she hears any loud noises. She tries to cower and hide in her outside run if possible,” said Prisco.

OSCAR houses and finds homes for 20 to 30 dogs per week. Prisco said they raised money to buy the land and renovate the shelter two years ago. The proposed shooting range would be less than a half-mile away.

Dozens of OSCAR supporters showed up to a council meeting this week.

"We had signs. We were pleading with them to not put the gun range right next to our animal shelter. We’re hoping our voice is heard,” she said.

Police were not available for on camera interview, but a spokesperson said that officers currently are paid overtime to drive an hour each way to get in gun practice. It is required training for every officer in the state. Officers must qualify to carry a handgun two times per year and a rifle four times per year, per attorney general guidelines. Plus, Hopatcong Police say they want to do extra training at their own facility to make sure their officers and the people they serve are safe, particularly in light of recent school shootings.

A spokeswoman said they are committed to the site near the animal shelter, and that there is another private shooting range two miles down the road. It could be built and in use by this fall.