More than 130 animals were seized from an illegal puppy mill run from a Scotch Plains home that authorities said was in deplorable condition.
Authorities charged Dominick Ciabattari, 60, with 10 criminal offenses and four disorderly violations -- and said they expect to add more -- after recovering two dozen cats, 71 Chihuahuas, 18 Golden Retrievers, 17 Pomeranians and 3 Pekingese dogs, officials said.
They ranged from newborn to fully-grown, Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo and Scotch Plains Police Chief Ted Conley said in a joint announcement Wednesday.
"The preliminary investigation has revealed that the pets were kept in unsanitary conditions, many locked in cages around the clock in a loud, stressful environment, with no outdoor activity," the release said.
"There was no [sign] of proper vetting or veterinary care or records, and evidence was recovered indicating that unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine was taking place on site," it added.
Several animals were pregnant and others were diagnosed with severe dehydration, infection, ocular discharge and other conditions, authorities said.
The seizure was the largest ever of at-risk animals in Union County since new protocols went into effect.
The mill was discovered when police responded Monday to reports of unsafe, unsanitary conditions at Ciabattari's house at the corner of Terrill Road and Laurie Court, the prosecutor's office said.
More charges were expected anticipated pending a review of veterinary records, authorities said.
Anyone with information tied to the case is urged to call Union County Prosecutor’s Office Sgt. Vito Colacitti at (908) 527-4723 or Detective Alex Lopez at (908) 527-4933.
The pets were sent to the following 13 animal rescue organizations:
- Traveling Paws (Cranford): https://www.petfinder.com/member/us/nj/cranford/travelingpaws-nj684/
- Jersey Pits Rescue (Garwood): https://www.jerseypitsrescue.com/
- All Star Pet Rescue (Linden): http://www.allstarpetrescue.com/
- Brendan’s Meadows Rescue (Mountainside): 908-272-8555; http://brendansmeadows.com/
- Plainfield Area Humane Society (Plainfield): 908-754-0300; https://pahs.org
- Best Friend Dog and Animal Adoption (Scotch Plains): https://www.bfdaaa.com/
- Castle of Dreams Animal Rescue (Aberdeen): 732-765-8378; https://castle-of-dreams.com/
- A Pathway to Hope (Hawthorne): http://www.apathwaytohope.org/
- St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center (Madison): https://www.sthuberts.org/
- Montclair Township Animal Shelter (Montclair): 973-744-8600; https://www.montclairnjusa.org/government/departments/animal_shelter
- Second Chance Pet Adoption League (Oak Ridge): 973) 208-1054; https://www.petfinder.com/member/us/nj/oak-ridge/second-chance-pet-adoption-league-nj113/
- Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge (Oakland): 201-337-5180; https://rbari.org/
- Rescue Ridge (Spring Lake): 732-546-8805; https://www.rescueridge.com/
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