SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Investigators early last week dismantled a Scotch Plains puppy mill being illegally run out of a private residence, resulting in more than 130 animals being rescued and transferred to more than a dozen shelters, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo and Scotch Plains Police Chief Ted Conley jointly announced Wed., Feb. 19.

Ten fourth-degree criminal charges and four disorderly persons offenses have been filed against Dominick Ciabattari, 60, of Scotch Plains. All the charges are related to failure to properly care for the animals, some of which were pregnant, along with others that have been diagnosed with severe dental injuries, severe dehydration, infection, ocular discharge and other conditions. Additional charges are anticipated, and specific information about the charges and related Superior Court proceedings will be released as it becomes available, once veterinary records are received.

Members of the Scotch Plains Police Department responded to the home on the corner of Terrill Road and Laurie Court on Monday, after receiving information that the conditions inside were unsafe and unsanitary for humans and animals, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Patricia Cronin, who is prosecuting the case. Upon arrival, the officers contacted members of the humane animal treatment subsection of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit, and the Prosecutor’s Office and members of the Union County Prosecutor's Office Animal Cruelty Task Force responded to the scene as well.

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In all, investigators recovered a total of 132 animals, ranging in age from newborns to fully grown, breeding-age adults, including approximately two dozen felines, with the remainder being various breeds of dogs. The total also included 71 Chihuahuas, 18 Golden Retrievers, 17 Pomeranians and 3 Pekingese.  

The preliminary investigation has revealed that the pets were kept in unsanitary conditions, many locked in cages around the clock in a loud, stressful environment, with no outdoor activity. There was no indicia of proper vetting or veterinary care or records, and evidence was recovered indicating that unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine was taking place on site.

“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,” said acting Union County Prosecutor Ruotolo.

Interested in Adopting?

Anyone interested in adopting any of the pets is invited to contact the nearest shelter:


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