PARAMUS, N.J. -- Paramus police overnight Monday found 67 puppies packed into small metal crates in a van parked behind the Route 17 Paramus pet store owned by a businessman already facing animal cruelty charges.
An original estimate put the figure around 50, but law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Daily Voice it was 67.
Police Officers Daniel Derienzo and Matthew Lombardo were patrolling the area around 3 a.m. when they "heard crying and whining coming from inside" the white 2002 Freightliner Sprinter parked outside of the regular parking stalls at Just Pups, Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said.
"They also immediately smelled a strong sent of urine and feces" from inside, he said.
Inside, they found crates holding two to four puppies each. All were alive, the chief said.
"The temperature inside the van was 38 degrees Fahrenheit and the outside temperature was 35 degrees," Ehrenberg said.
"Located in the rear of the van was a propane tank, which was connected to a space heater," he added. "The space heater was ineffective in providing heat and proper ventilation in the van was not provided.
"The officers also observed that the crates were too small for some of the dogs who could not stand up inside of them. Some of the crates also did not contain food or water and some of the dogs were covered in feces."
Last month, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals filed 267 animal cruelty charges against the owner of the van -- Emerson native Vincent LoSacco, 50 -- after three dead dogs were recovered from a freezer of his East Brunswick store.
An additional 63 puppies were taken in by a Tenafly pet rescuer. Authorities in East Brunswick revoked his license last Monday.
LoSacco -- who owns local Just Pups stores in Paramus and in Emerson -- denied the East Brunswick charges to Daily Voice. His phone apparently was turned off Monday morning.
Emerson's health inspector visited the Kinderkamack Road shop on Monday soon after this morning's story broke on Daily Voice. The inspector issued a "conditional approval," which Mayor Lou Lamatina said "means that the prior violations present at the store have not all been corrected.
"The location has two weeks to correct those violations, at which time a re[-]inspection will occur," the mayor said. "The inspector did state that the store was generally in good condition."
LoSacco also faced violations at a store he owns in Valhalla, NY, authorities there said.
The Bergen County Prosecutors Office Animal Cruelty Task Force and the Paramus animal control contractor, Tyco Animal Control, responded to Monday morning's discovery.
The puppies were taken to Oradell Animal Hospital -- where it was determiend that 15 needed further medical treatment, Ehrenbeg said
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force is investigating, along with, Paramus police detectives and the borough Health Department, which closed the store.
Complaints were pending, the chief said.
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