EAST HANOVER, NJ- Following a health department quarantine that slammed shut its doors in February, the Just Pups pet store had its license renewal rejected by the East Hanover Town Council in a public hearing late on March 6.
Just Pups, following a string of broken regulations, had its dogs quarantined and its store closed down on February 4, by East Hanover Health Officer, Carlo Dilizia. It was asserted by Dilizia that through inspections conducted by the East Hanover Health Department over the past several months, the Just Pups pet store and its owner Vincent LoSacco has failed to comply with local and state health code regulations. These violations included the import of 34 dogs without the appropriate health documentation on January 2 and another group of 68 pups that were also missing valid paperwork on January 23.
On February 6, Dilizia gave a recommendation to the town to revoke the license of Just Pups in East Hanover to insure the safety of the animals and the people in contact with them.
Throughout the inspections, the health department noted that there were animals that appeared to be in distress. LoSacco’s own veterinarian report showed 16 pups had communicable disease with many of these pups housed with the general population at the time the quarantine was put in place.
Dr. Andrea Pribula of the Veterinary Center of Morris County in East Hanover was brought in by the East Hanover Health Department to examine the pups at the scene. The puppies were taken out of their cages individually and each examined to determine if there were any signs of disease or malnutrition. Pribula’s assessment were that the bedding on the cages, the water sources, and the cleanliness of the cages were all below par. This included water dispensaries intended for rabbits, gerbils or other small mammals, but insufficient for young puppies and cages that had several instances of excrement, urine staining and vomit.
During the physical examination of the puppies, Pribula found that half of the dogs that she examined showed signs of illness or disease. Of all of the puppies examined, it was determined that 26 had signs of kennel cough, 7 had signs of diarrhea, 15 had irritation to their paws from standing on inappropriate grating, and 6 puppies were underweight which indicated underfeeding or malnutrition.
The board was additionally presented with a letter from Dr. Morsy Alsamadisi who was responsible for caring for the puppies after the quarantine. He stated in his report that a total of 49 canines suffered from Giardia, a type of parasite that colonize the small intestine and is communicable to humans, and at least 22 dogs had been suffering from kennel cough or severe pneumonia as well.
“I have been doing this for almost 23 years,” Dilizia said in the closing statement of his testimony. “I am a hard worker, but I have never worked harder in my life than on this case. Every time you turn the page it’s something different…I sleep better at night knowing this place is not open.”
In his closing statement, LoSacco asserted that he did all he could to comply the local and state regulations. While the law states that the animals must have medical forms from the state of origin, LoSacco took the original 32 dogs that arrived without their necessary forms out of state to an independent veterinarian in Pennsylvania that gave them a clean bill of health. He also asserted that there are diseases and signs of disease that veterinarians can deduce with their training and access to equipment that a regular stare manager could not see.
In spite of his protestations, the East Hanover Town Council was unmoved. The two hour hearing was concluded in less than two minutes as the council unanimously voted to revoke the license for Just Pups LLC.
“I’m not a veterinarian,” said Council President Frank DeMaio. “I have to go with the testimony of our Health Officer, Mr. Dilizia, our Environmental Health Specialist, Mrs. Loianoco, and our veterinarian, Dr. Pribula. Based on their testimony, along with this letter from Dr. Alsamadisi, I cannot recommend moving forward with renewing this license.”
This was reinforced by Councilman Brian Brokaw who went on to say, “I morally cannot and will not renew this license based on the testimony of Mr. Dilizia and our professionals.”
These statements were echoed by Councilmembers Michael Martorelli and Carolyn Jandoli and the verdict from the council came swiftly.