PATERSON, NJ (PIX11) — Authorities in Paterson say they uncovered what they believe was a despicable case of animal cruelty.
Nearly two dozen German shepherds and Dobermans were found locked up in a basement of an abandoned mansion with no food or water. Animal control officers were called to the scene of the estate on 39th Street near Broadway Tuesday afternoon.
The mansion – which is believed to be the second oldest home in the city – has been abandoned for decades. The property was reportedly purchased by a Newark-based lending company in recent weeks.
“The new people that bought it wanted to get in and they wanted to make sure nobody was there so they opened the lock up and when they went in there they found the dogs,” Chief John DeCando of Paterson Animal Control told PIX11.
The animals – which ranged in age between 3 and 8 years old – were all malnourished and weak.
Feces were found in all of the mansion’s 42 rooms, DeCando said.
Authorities believe a squatter who was living in the foreclosed home was operating some sort of puppy mill where he was breeding the dogs which were mostly female and exploiting them for their liters.
“You could actually see some hole where the dog was actually trying to make an escape,” DeCando said. “Of course he ain’t going to go nowhere because there’s cement under there.”
The dogs are now being rehabilitated at local rescues in an effort spearheaded by the Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge.
“It’s just disheartening because you keep thinking every time somebody is caught doing this maybe they will stop,” Megan Brinster, executive director of the Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, said. “But it keeps happening.”
The disturbing case of animal cruelty is brought to light exactly a year after nearly a dozen German shepherds were dumped and later rescued in various towns in northern new Jersey. As the investigation continues, authorities are trying to determine if it’s all related.
The person responsible faces a slew of animal cruelty charges, possible jail time and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. As of now, no arrests have been made.
“You could run but you can’t hide – we are going to get you,” DeCando said.
The 19 dogs will spend the next week or so getting evaluated and treated for any injuries they may have.
After they get the all clear, they’ll be ready for adoption. Those interested can contact the Ramapo Bergen animal refuge directly.