At least 86 cats and five dogs were rescued from a residence on 52nd Street in West New York today after officials responded to an anonymous call reporting animal hoarders.
Upon entering the home, the living room and dining room areas were very well-kept, with a few cats in cages on the living room floor and scented candles and incense spread throughout the house.
However, upon entering the bedroom and bathroom … it was a completely different story.
In some instances, three or four cats shared one cage, ripped newspapers, cat food and urine had stained the carpet, the shower appeared to be completely unusable and there was only one litter box in plain sight.
Furthermore, the unbelievably pungent smell was indescribably unpleasant, with a face mask doing little to nothing to block the odor.
Multiple West New York officials, including Mayor Felix Roque, Health Officer Gina Miranda-Diaz, Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo and Sue Colacurcio, as well as Animal Cruelty Investigator Geoff Santini all spoke about the details surrounding the situation.
Santini said that all three residents of the home, a couple and their 20-year-old daughter, will all be charged with at least 86 counts of animal cruelty – which could be see fines as high as $3,000 per count (a maximum penalty of $258,000 in fines).
However, if any of the animals from the home die due to the negligent conditions, the charges are upgraded to third degree animal cruelty and the offenses become indictable.
Roque also noted that any costs associated with housing and nursing the animals will be billed to the residents of 562 52nd St.
Vincent Ascolese, the founder and supervising animal control officer for Cliffside Park’s Bergen County Protect & Rescue (also Santini’s brother-in-law), explained some of the work that goes into a large-scale rescue effort such as this one.
Ascolese added that calls have been made to five major North Jersey-based animal control organizations, but was not immediately sure who would be able to assist as the rescue continues into this evening.
While the animals are likely going to need to receive medical care for at least the next week or two, anyone interested in adopting can call Town Hall at 201-295-5100 or keep an eye on the town’s official website, westnewyorknj.org.
The last time a hoarder was reported in West New York back in December, at least 18 cats were rescued, with another feline found dead.