276 dogs were found in "deplorable" conditions in what authorities called "an extreme hoarding situation" at a New Jersey home, triggering a weekend mass transfer of Chihuahuas, Yorkies, pugs and mixed-breed dogs to area shelters.
Ross Licitra with the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told the Asbury Park Press
that while most of the animals were in "fair" condition, he believed some had never been outside of the home in Howell.
Charlene and Joseph Hendricks, owners of the 1,880-square-foot home where the dogs were found, were cooperating with authorities, said the Press.
"Could you trim it down and not give us so much attention? We're not bad people," Joseph Hendricks asked the newspaper. "Not much to tell at this point in time. I'm exhausted, I can't even think."
An Associated Humane Society officer flagged the home Thursday while investigating a call of a loose dog in the neighborhood, reported WNBC-TV
. The officer became suspicious when he heard barking dogs after knocking on the home's door but no one answered.
The SPCA went to the home on Friday, leading to the discovery of nearly 300 Chihuahuas, Yorkies, pugs and mixed-breeds dogs inside, said the station's news site.
Authorities told WNBC-TV than many of the dogs were found sitting on bookshelves, like "a hamster cage for dogs."
"They have steps that go up to the shelf and there were dogs looking down and barking," said Tierney Park, a Monmouth Sheriff's deputy.
Kim Tamborra, an office clerk at the Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey in Tinton Falls, said her agency took 30 of the dogs, reported NJ Advance Media
. Licitra told the website that St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison took 141 dogs and while his Monmouth County SPCA took in 105.
"We're packed to the gills," Licitra told NJ Advance Media. "We've got animals in rooms we don't normally keep animals in. "The last time we were this packed was after (Hurricane) Sandy."
"They're frightened to death. The look in their eyes tells the story. They're in need of help. It's sad. It's a sad situation," he said.
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