EAST HANOVER, NJ - The ongoing saga of the “Just Pups” location on Route 10 in East Hanover has hit a crescendo as the store has been shut down following a string of violations.
Many Livingston residents have been involved in the ongoing “Just Pups” conversation, taking to Facebook and other outlets to report their faulty experiences with the establishment.
In response, Mayor Shawn Klein and the Livingston Township Council proposed an ordinance banning the sale of certain dogs and cats from pet shops in order to “protect the citizens of the municipality who may purchase cats or dogs from a pet shop or other business establishment, help prevent inhumane breeding conditions, promote community awareness of animal welfare and foster a more humane environment in the municipality.”
The proposed ordinance was moved on a first reading and a final hearing on this ordinance was scheduled for the public council meeting on March 6.
“This is essentially in response to the puppy mill in East Hanover on Route 10, where 100 dogs were identified as illegally being sold there without proper health checks and paperwork,” said Klein. “This council has spearheaded an initiative to take care of dogs and cats in this area [with our new shelter]. So this is sort of hand-in-glove in terms of our responsibility in being humane toward cats and dogs.”
In January, the East Hanover Police Department responded to a tip called into the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that Just Pups owner, Vincent LoSacco, was smuggling 100 puppies into his store. Sgt. Frank Rizzo met East Hanover Police at the scene and reported that he had seen LoSacco taking the dogs into the building.
Although reports stated there were approximately 100 dogs being brought in by LoSacco, only about 34 were found at the scene.
In addition to this, LoSacco was accused of several violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, the Pet Protection Act, as well as Pet and Advertising Regulations in 2016 when a reported 55 sick puppies were sold from his stores. In addition to the slew of consumer fraud violations, LoSacco was being charged by local and state authorities with more than 400 counts of animal cruelty and neglect in his East Brunswick and Paramus stores.
The charges include harrowing tales of negligence bordering on abuse, such as investigators finding 60 emaciated and ill puppies shivering and left alone in tiny cages stored in the back of a van earlier in April.
The Hanover Eagle reported that the store had been shut down on Feb. 4 — following an additional problem of importing puppies without the required medical paperwork on Jan. 23. That Saturday was the last of the Just Pups location, as East Hanover Health Officer, Carlo Dilizia, had the dogs quarantined due to LoSacco remaining in violation of more than 30 summonses.
Just Pups also failed a follow-up investigation by the East Hanover Health Department on Feb. 1, in which inspectors found three canine puppies deceased and another two puppies with signs of disease that were not isolated from the group.
LoSacco and his lawyer have refuted these claims. More information on LoSacco’s hearing will be provided as it becomes available.