Prosecutors: More than 130 animals rescued from suspected puppy mill in New Jersey

Puppy Mill

More than 100 animals were rescued from a suspected puppy mill in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, prosecutors announced Wednesday. 

The Union County Prosecutor's Office says investigators rescued a total of 132 animals from the home, ranging in age from newborns to fully grown.

The animals seized included 71 Chihuahuas, 18 golden retrievers, 17 Pomeranians, three Pekingese and approximately two dozen cats.

According to investigators, the animals were kept in unsanitary conditions with most being locked in cages around the clock with no outdoor activity. 

The Ramapo Bergen Animal Rescue Inc. joined with area organizations to rescue 19 of these dogs, including the most fearful and medically needy dogs on site. Rescuers worked until early Tuesday morning to ensure all dogs were safe, comfortable and healthy, admitting seven of the dogs to Oradell Animal Hospital for supportive care and monitoring."

(Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge)

"We are so grateful for our investigative partners in the Scotch Plains Police Department, under the direction of Chief Conley, the compassionate and dedicated members of our Animal Cruelty Task Force who joined us at the scene, and the 13 animal shelters and rescue organizations that took in the recovered pets, ensuring that they received access to proper care."

— Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo

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Dominick Ciabattari, 60, of Scotch Plains, is charged with 10 fourth-degree criminal charges and four disorderly persons offenses.

New Jersey revised and strengthened its animal cruelty prevention protocols in a January 2018 bill that mandated every county prosecutor establish an animal cruelty task force. Monday's raid marked the single largest seizure of at-risk animals in Union County since the new protocols went into effect.

Community members interested in adopting any of the animals are encouraged to contact the shelter nearest to them:

– Traveling Paws (Cranford)

– Jersey Pits Rescue (Garwood)

– All Star Pet Rescue (Linden)

– Brendan’s Meadows Rescue (Mountainside): 908-272-8555

– Plainfield Area Humane Society (Plainfield): 908-754-0300

– Best Friend Dog and Animal Adoption (Scotch Plains)

– Castle of Dreams Animal Rescue (Aberdeen): 732-765-8378

– A Pathway to Hope (Hawthorne)

– St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center (Madison)

– Montclair Township Animal Shelter (Montclair): 973-744-8600

– Second Chance Pet Adoption League (Oak Ridge): 973) 208-1054

– Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge (Oakland): 201-337-5180

– Rescue Ridge (Spring Lake): 732-546-8805

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