After finding dozens of dead dogs in various freezers, with 130 others living in “deplorable and inhumane conditions,” New Jersey police placed 65-year-old Donna Roberts under arrest.
Roberts claims she’s done nothing wrong.
Inspectors from the Burlington County Health Department soon became nauseous when they entered the Shamong Township woman’s home, the New York Post reports. Years of animal feces and urine had lacquered the floorboards, making the house unsafe for animals to live in, let alone humans.
In various freezers, the inspectors found 44 dead animals in plastic bags. Many of the living dogs were suffering from neglect, and were treated at the scene by animal welfare workers, but a few were in such poor state they had to be rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic.
“Although the circumstance 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,” NJ State Police Col. Patrick Callahan wrote in a public statement. “Troopers take an oath to protect and safeguard life, including the lives and well-being of pets, which can be vulnerable to abuse.”
A recently passed ordinance in Shamong Township limits the number of animals a single residence can hold at 14. Authorities visited Roberts’ home understanding that she had more than the legal limit.
“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,” wrote Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.
Roberts told the NY Post that the dead animals were stillborn and placed in the freezers at least seven years ago.
“I forgot all about them, they were in the cellar,” Roberts said. “They were in a freezer, and that’s what breeders do when dogs die. I forgot all about them. They were born dead and I didn’t kill them. They’re making a big deal out of nothing.”
Roberts, who breeds animals for a living, maintains she was going to send the dead animals to a laboratory in Alabama, where they would be autopsied. She has been charged with several counts of animal abuse, which she intends to fight.
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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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