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Bergen Authorities Charge Pet Shop Owner, Brother With Animal Cruelty

Vincent LoSacco, owner of Just Pups.
Vincent LoSacco, owner of Just Pups. Photo Credit: Matt Speiser

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Bergen County authorities have filed charges against a pet shop owner and his brother, who they said kept 67 dogs crated overnight in van outside the Paramus Just Pups store, Daily Voice has confirmed.

Vincent and Leonard LoSacco are each charged with 134 counts of animal cruelty, Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said Wednesday afternoon. Each was given a May 10 arraignment date in Central Municipal Court in Hackensack.

Specifically, the LoSaccos were charged with 67 violations each of:

  • "Inflicting unnecessary cruelty upon a living animal or creature, or unnecessarily failing to provide a living animal or creature of which the person has charge either as an owner or otherwise with proper food, drink, shelter or protection from the weather, or leaving it unattended in a vehicle under inhumane conditions adverse to the health or welfare of the living animal or creature;"
  • "Carrying a animal in cruel, inhumane manner.'"

Investigators determined that Leonard LoSacco picked up the puppies and drove them to Paramus, taking several days, before arriving April 4, Grewal said.

"With Vincent LoSacco’s knowledge, Leonard LoSacco parked the van in the far back parking lot and left the area, with the anticipation that the puppies would be unloaded the next day," he said.

Police Officers Daniel Derienzo and Matthew Lombardo were patrolling the area around 3 a.m. when they "heard crying and whining coming from inside" the white 2002 Freightliner Sprinter parked outside of the regular parking stalls at Just Pups, Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said at the time.

"They also immediately smelled a strong sent of urine and feces" from inside, he said.

Inside, they found crates holding two to four puppies each. All were alive, and many didn't have access to food or water, the chief said.

"In addition, at the time of the discovery, the temperature inside the van was measured at 38 degrees Fahrenheit," Grewal, the prosecutor, noted Wednesday.

Vincent LoSacco reiterated Wednesday that he did nothing wrong.

"If there was any inhumane treatment, it was perpetrated by the individual who ordered that the van be dragged across the parking lot, put it at a 45-degree angle on the tow truck and then brought it to the animal hospital," he told Daily Voice.

This was after waiting for two hours from when the dogs were found at 3 a.m. for the tow truck to arrive, LoSacco said.

"Why they disregarded the well-being of the puppies was for them to preseve evidence," he said. "They put preserving evidence over protecting the puppies."

LoSacco, an Emerson native, has drawn fire in various quarters for incidents at his Just Pups stores in Paramus, Emerson and East Brunswick.

Last month, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals filed 267 animal cruelty charges against LoSacco, 50, after three dead dogs were recovered from a freezer of his East Brunswick store.

The Route 17 store has remained closed since the dogs were found. All were examined and/or treated at the Oradell Animal Hospital. Paramus officials said they later issued 400 citations to LoSacco.

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