PARAMUS, N.J. — Raincoat-clad picketers took to Route 17 Saturday afternoon in an outcry against a Paramus pet store where police earlier this week found 67 dogs crated overnight in a van outside.
The protest — organized by representatives from the Facebook group Pet Store Watchdogs — occurred just one day after a judge denied Just Pups owner Vincent LoSacco's request to keep Paramus officials from closing his shop.
Picketers displayed signs reading "stop the abuse" and "puppy mills are inhumane."
Among the approximately 30 protestors were several children and a former employee of LoSacco's Emerson location who is scheduled to testify against him, according to protester Nicole Lalumiere of Westwood.
"They treat the puppies like they're products," said Lalumiere, who became passionate about adoption after purchasing a sick dog from a store in Paramus Park Mall two decades ago. "It's horrible the care that they get."
Last month, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals filed 267 animal cruelty charges against LoSacco, a 50-year-old Emerson native, after three dead dogs were recovered from a freezer at his East Brunswick store.
LoSacco — who owns local Just Pups stores in Paramus and in Emerson — denied the East Brunswick charges to Daily Voice.
In the Paramus incident, the puppies were delivered overnight and would have been retrieved at 7 a.m. Monday, he told Daily Voice. There was nothing "illegal, inhumane or uncommon" about the setup, he said.
"I can understand how a police officer walks by a van and hears dogs crying and is concerned," said LoSacco, "but in the end I am hoping they will see it my way."
"It was great to see citizens of not only Paramus, but Bergen County —peacefully protesting for what was a just cause," Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera told Daily Voice.
"My hope is that their common sense voices are in the majority and that the crimes Mr. LoSacco is accused of are dealt with swiftly so our community can move on from this deplorable situation," the mayor said.
Anthony Locicero also contributed to this story.
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