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Sussex County Petting Zoo Owner Indicted On Animal Cruelty Charges

Some of the animals and a loving visitor at Sugar Sweet Farms in Sussex County.
Some of the animals and a loving visitor at Sugar Sweet Farms in Sussex County. Photo Credit: @stephracer Instagram

The 47-year-old owner of a Sussex County petting zoo has been indicted on animal cruelty charges by a grand jury, reports say.

Dennis Sugar of Branchville -- who owned Sugar Sweet Farms in Andover Township -- was arrested last summer for animal cruelty at his zoo, previously located in Lafayette, NJ Herald reports.

A Sussex County grand jury accused Sugar of failing to care for numerous goats and piglets, many of whom had died or suffered from injuries and untreated diseases, reports say.

Sugar was indicted on Jan. 23 and charged with two counts of third-degree cruelty to animals resulting in serious bodily injury or death and two counts of fourth-degree cruelty to animals resulting in bodily injury.

He was also charged with two disorderly offenses for animal cruelty, but these charges are not subject to indictment, reports say.

Sugar Sweet Farms is advertised as a petting farm where visitors can pet, feed and “create their own personal experience” with the farm’s variety of goats, lambs, alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, bunnies, guinea pigs, ducks, chickens, chicks, ducklings, and piglets.

Detectives investigating the condition of another one of Sugar's farms in Hampton allegedly discovered around 30 dead pigs and 14 malnourished pigs on Aug. 12.

Two days later, the Lafayette property was determined to be littered with dead animal remains, reports say.

Meanwhile, the investigation found that numerous live goats had parasites, two had fractured legs and several pigs had mange, reports say.

Sugar appeared last week in front of Judge Louis S. Sceusi for his arraignment, but the hearing was postponed after he claimed he needed a new lawyer.

Sugar’s criminal history includes an arrest and indictment on three counts of issuing and passing bad checks in 2004 — charges that were resolved when he participated in a pretrial intervention program.

He was also charged with terroristic threats in 2015, but the charges were later downgraded, court records show.

Sugar is expected to enter a plea to the charges during his next court appearance on March 2.

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