SHAMONG TOWNSHIP, NJ (RNN) - A woman was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after police say they found 44 dead dogs in freezers and more than 100 living dogs in “deplorable and inhumane conditions” at her home.
Officials with the New Jersey State Police and Burlington County Health Department inspected the home of 65-year-old Donna Roberts on Tuesday, according to a statement the police posted on Facebook.
Detectives say more than 100 dogs of various breeds were living at Roberts' home and there was evidence of animal cruelty inflicted on those dogs. Some of the officials experienced dizziness and nausea because the home smelled of animal feces and ammonia.
Detective Sgt. Ian Fenkel said the conditions inside the home were so terrible it was condemned, according to the Burlington County Times.
“The dogs were found to be both inside and outside, living in their own waste,” he said. “It appeared, in my opinion, that there was no cleanup done as far as the urine and feces that these dogs were living in.”
Further investigation revealed 44 dead dogs had been packaged in plastic bags and stored in freezers throughout Roberts' home, police say.
Four of the living dogs were in critical condition, so they were transported to an emergency veterinary clinic.
The remaining dogs were treated at the home by animal shelter workers. In total, police say they removed 161 living dogs from the property.
Six regional shelters took in some of the rescued animals, according to the Burlington County Times.
“The deplorable and inhumane living conditions the rescued dogs were forced to endure is tragic," Police Col. Patrick Callahan said. “Troopers take an oath to protect and safeguard life, including the lives and well-being of pets, which can be vulnerable to abuse.”
Residents had been complaining about the property and potential animal abuse for months, the Burlington County Times reports. As a result, the township enacted new ordinances, on which the police were able to act, leading to the search of Roberts’ home.
“I’m just really happy we were able to play some small role in bringing this woman to justice for this really inexcusable abuse of animals,” said Kate Gibbs, the director of the Burlington County government.
Roberts was released from custody with a pending court date.
The investigation is ongoing.