SHAMONG TOWNSHIP, N.J. – The smell of ammonia and feces left responders nauseous and dizzy after they found 44 dead dogs and 130 living in "horrendous" conditions inside a New Jersey woman's home Tuesday, according to police.
New Jersey State Police arrested 65-year-old Donna Roberts, of Shamong Township, on charges of animal cruelty.
Detectives were assisting health department workers with an inspection at the Oakshade Road residence when they found the dogs.
The living dogs were of various breeds, and detectives said they showed evidence of animal cruelty. Four of the dogs were in critical condition and were taken to an emergency veterinary clinic.
The 44 dead animals had been packaged in plastic and stored in freezers "throughout the residence," police said.
"Although the circumstances surrounding the demise of the 44 dogs that were discovered inside plastic bags in freezers remain under investigation, the deplorable and inhumane living conditions the rescued dogs were forced to endure is tragic," said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police.
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a news release that the inspection was the result of a new ordinance regulating the ownership of large numbers of dogs.
“When contact with the occupant raised concerns about the welfare of animals on the property, we sought a search warrant, which was then executed by the State Police," Coffina said. "We are appalled by the horrendous conditions these dogs were subjected to, and as a result I authorized charges against the property owner, Donna Roberts."
Roberts, who was released after being charged, has a pending court date.