A North Jersey farm owner arrested on a slew of animal cruelty violations last month says he loved the animals and cared deeply for them, according to a new report.
Carlos Rocha, 54, was charged Jan. 26 after an inspection at his farm on Jackson Valley Road in Mansfield Township revealed filthy living spaces, animals with untreated injuries, cows with no food access, several dead calves and many other horrifying conditions.
Rocha, of Union Township in Union County, had previously been warned about the conditions but failed to address them, causing them to worsen, police said.
However, Rocha in an interview with the Daily Record said it had been his dream to own a farm after growing up on one in Brazil and maintains that he “cares deeply” for the animals.
"I spent money to buy [the animals]. Why would I treat them bad?" he reportedly told the New Jersey Herald.
"It was my dream to have a farm in America," Rocha said. "But it has turned into a nightmare."
Rocha says the farm’s inspectors initially cited hygiene and cleanliness concerns but did not mention the animals’ health status.
Rocha reportedly lost his job last year, has fallen into a depression and may sell the farm amidst the criminal accusations — though he could be interested in owning another in the future, the outlet says.
"I really love animals and I want to see them run around and be free,” he told the outlet.
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