PARAMUS, N.J. — The owner of a Paramus pet shop where authorities found 67 puppies caged outside in a van said Wednesday that there was nothing "illegal, inhumane or uncommon" about the setup.
Vincent LoSacco told Daily Voice the puppies were delivered to Just Pups on Route 17 overnight and would have been retrieved at 7 a.m. Monday.
"This was all a major misunderstanding," LoSacco said. "I can understand how a police officer walks by a van and hears dogs crying and is concerned, but in the end I am hoping they will see it my way."
LoSacco, 50, also disputed that the dogs were covered in feces, weren't provided enough food or water and were in cages too small for them to stand up.
If they were covered in waste, it was likely because the van was hoisted "at a 45-degree angle" for towing to the nearby Oradell Animal Hospital.
This, he said, "had the dogs scared and as a result defecating and then rolling in it due to the bouncing."
The towing of the van also likely caused a "significant" amount of food and water to spill out, and that by 3 a.m. -- when they were discovered -- many of the dogs had probably already finished their dinner.
They would have been fed again no later than 7 a.m., LoSacco said.
He also denied that it was 38 degrees inside the van, saying that the warm air inside provided by a space heater escaped when police opened the rear sliding door.
The interior of the van is completely insulated, he said, and the space heater is a safe, vent-free unit.
The cages were tall enough for the dogs to stand up in, and held four each to minimize their stress.
All of this, LoSacco said, was in compliance with USDA regulations.
A small group of protesters carrying signs showed up at the shop Wednesday afternoon (see photo above).
Daily Voice broke the news Monday of the harrowing discovery.
The puppies were taken to Oradell Animal Hospital, where it was determined that four needed further medical treatment -- not 15, as authorities originally reported.
Earlier Wednesday, Paramus authorities closed the Route 17 shop and issued nearly 400 summonses, Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said.
This came a day after Emerson officials issued violations at LoSacco's Kinderkamack Road store.
None of the rescues will be available for adoption until charges are resolved against LoSacco, who is being investigated by the Bergen County SPCA, authorities said.
LoSacco said he has every intention of staying in business.
"I think people's outrage is based on a lack of knowledge or understanding of puppies and animals," LoSacco said. "There is nothing bad or inhumane about what we do, but not knowing the industry I can see how somebody could form the opinion that this is heartless."
Last month, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals filed 267 animal cruelty charges against LoSacco after three dead dogs were recovered from a freezer of his East Brunswick store.
He called those charges "unfounded."
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