Tag Archives: new jersey

PetSmart disputes reports of 47 grooming deaths

PetSmart, the nation’s leading pet retailer, is countering allegations raised in an investigation that documented 47 deaths in, or shortly after leaving, the store’s grooming salons in the last 10 years.

The investigation, published last Thursday, documented dozens of cases of dogs dying amid or after groomings. The count is based on reports by PetSmart customers in 14 states.

Additionally, the investigation found, the company has offered owners payments, sometimes for as little as few hundred dollars, in exchange for non-disclosure agreements — in other words, paying people to not go public with the deaths of their dogs.

PetSmart is responding to the allegations, and is allowing customers to tour its salons as part of a package of changes it’s making to reassure customers that its dog groomings are safe.

PetSmart — which operates more than 1,600 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and does millions of groomings a year — fiercely defended its safety record and has not admitted wrongdoing in any of the cases.

“As a company of pet lovers who are dedicated to the health and happiness of all pets, we empathize with these grieving families,” it said in a statement Thursday. “Nevertheless, we are not aware of any evidence suggesting that PetSmart services caused the deaths of these pets.”

“We maintain the highest standards in the industry, but by no means are we perfect,” the company said in its statement. “That’s why we’re always exploring enhancements to those standards.”

During the course of the investigation, the company announced it would improve dog screenings before groomings, install cameras in grooming areas and review its training procedures.

The investigation also detailed allegations of inadequate groomer training and intense pressure to grow profits.

The organization behind the investigation, NJ Advance Media, is a team of award-winning journalists that provides content for NJ.com (The Trenton Times and the Newark Star-Ledger.

The investigation began after the December death of Scruffles, an English bulldog groomed at a PetSmart in Flemington, after which tens of thousands of people took to social media to share stories of injuries or deaths.

The 47 deaths across 14 states since 2008 is not a definitive number. No state currently requires all individual groomers to be licensed, so there’s no enforced standard training and little public accounting when things go wrong.

PetSmart did not address specific cases in its statement, but noted some pets could have unknown medical conditions that put them at risk, or they could die of natural causes, old age or other reasons out of the groomer’s control.

When cases do go to court, the plaintiffs often reach private settlements. The company has offered out-of-court payments to pet owners — especially those who have been outspoken on social media — in return for signing non-disclosure agreements, the investigation found.

According to a copy of a three-page PetSmart non-disclosure agreement obtained by NJ Advance Media, signatories are forbidden from revealing anything about an incident, the payment received or even the existence of the agreement.

(Photos: At top, Danielle DiNapoli, with a depiction of Scruffles, who died shortly after a grooming at a PetSmart in Flemington, N.J.; at bottom Capone, a bulldog who died after getting his nails trimmed at a PetSmart in Philadelphia; by NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

Crated dog was placed in bay to get revenge on rival boyfriend, prosecutors say

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The man charged with leaving a pit bull mix in a cage to drown in the Sandy Hook Bay was trying to get revenge on a romantic rival, prosecutors say.

Aaron Davis, 34, is being held without bail pending trial on third-degree charges of animal cruelty and disorderly persons charges.

A judge in Monmouth County Courthouse Monday sided with the state in its bid to deny bail and keep Davis behind bars until he is tried in the case, the Asbury Park Press reported.

The dog was discovered and rescued before the tide came in July 30 by a woman who had been walking her own dog at Veterans Memorial Park in Highlands, N.J.

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During a hearing Monday in Superior Court in Freehold Borough, prosecutors revealed that the dog — actually named Blaze — belonged to the ex-boyfriend of Davis’ girlfriend. The woman has children by both men.

The prosecutor said that the ex-boyfriend, Benito Williams, tried to break into the woman’s home but Davis stopped him and a fight ensued. Davis acted with “malice and depravity” to eliminate an “emblem of his enemy,” a prosecutor said.

Davis’ attorney, Adamo Ferreira of Hackensack, argued that the charges would likely result in probation in the event of a conviction and that the state’s case was “paper thin.”

Jennifer Vaz, who rescued the dog and named him River, has been fostering the dog.

She had planned to adopt him, but announced this week that she would be turning the dog over to the Monmouth County SPCA because her own dog has not taken well to the new dog.

Ross Licitra, executive director of the Monmouth County SPCA, said the dog will not be returned to the original owner.

(Photos: Asbury Park Press)

Crated pit bull rescued after being left to perish in rising bay tides

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New Jersey prosecutors are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the demented human who left a young dog inside a wire crate that was being swallowed by the rising tide.

A dog walker spotted the crate and the dog inside along the rocks Monday morning at Veterans Memorial Park, a bayfront park in Highlands.

waterdogShe rescued the young pit bull herself before authorities arrived at the scene, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said in a Facebook post.

The office said the woman was walking a dog when she spotted “a small dog cowering inside the cage. The cage was on a small portion of sand between the bulkhead and the water. The tide was coming in and the water had reached the cage.

“The good Samaritan climbed over the wall and rescued the dog … If not for the heroic rescue act of the good Samaritan, the dog could have potentially drowned.”

The dog had no collar or tags, and the ones he’s wearing in the photo at top were placed there by his rescuer, according to a comment on the post left by that person.

waterdog3Authorities asked for the public’s help in identifying who left the dog there.

Investigators said that based on the tide schedule, the caged dog was likely placed near the water between 4 and 6 a.m.

Anyone with information about the incident may contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Hot Line 877-898-7297 or the Highlands Police at (732) 872-1224.

The grey and white dog was taken to the Highlands Police Department. There was no update on the dog’s condition Monday night.

(Photos: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Facebook page)

Dog swiped (as in stolen) during Tinder date

tinderAn 18-year-old dog-sitter in New Jersey says the man she arranged a date with on Tinder stole the dog she was watching.

The woman was house-sitting a two-year-old Maltese when she invited the man over to a home in Leonia.

He showed up with another man.

As the dog-sitter and her date got acquainted, the other man wandered the home.

He gathered up the dog-sitter’s laptop, a package from Amazon and Maggie, a Maltese, police said.

Only after the two men left, on Sunday, did the 18-year-old realize that some items, and the family dog, had been taken from the home, according to the New York Post

Police have questioned at least one of the men. “We have had a limited conversation with him,” said Leonia police Capt. Scott Tamagny. “The investigation is still underway.”

According to ABC7, the dog was found at an animal shelter in Garfield, a town about 20 minutes away, after her photo was posted on a Facebook page for lost and found pets.

Maggie has been returned to her family.

(Photo: Leonia Police Department)

There’s no such thing as a hopeless dog

Six dogs who, with a little help, overcame their horrendous pasts will be featured this weekend in a special Animal Planet program that documents their journeys from frightened canines to forever companions.

The network partnered with the ASPCA to produce “Second Chance Dogs,” a behind-the-scenes look at the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey.

The center works to rehabilitate dogs that have been removed from hoarding situations, puppy mills and other atrocious conditions.

“The animals have lived their lives in constant fear and neglect, resulting in extreme distrust of humans and at times complete catatonia,” according to an Animal Planet release. “These conditions make them unsuitable for adoption, and in some cases at risk to be euthanized.”

The program airs at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 16.

Launched in 2013, the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center calls itself the first and only facility dedicated to rehabilitating dogs suffering from severe fear and undersocialization resulting from puppy mills, hoarding cases, and other situations that put them in peril.

“While we can’t yet answer all of the questions associated with rehabilitating at-risk animals, we continue to witness amazing transformations, dogs that conquer their anxiety and fear despite years of behavioral damage,” said Matthew Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “These transformations change the trajectory of their lives.”

The ASPCA, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, plans to open a second rehab center next year in North Carolina, The new $9 million, 35,000-square-foot facility will be located at what used to be a cement plant in Weaverville, North Carolina, just north of Asheville.

What is the “truth” about Just Pups?

Police investigating the source of a stench in Paramus found 67 puppies packed in a van parked behind Just Pups, a North Jersey pet store.

The pups — some covered in feces — were seized early Monday and taken to a North Jersey animal hospital, where 15 of them were determined to be in need of medical treatment.

Found locked in steel crates, the puppies were scheduled to go to other stores in the Just Pups chain. They had come from the Missouri breeding kennel of store owner Vincent LoSacco.

That’s him in the video above — responding last week to allegations of animal cruelty filed by the New Jersey SPCA in connection with the chain’s largest outlet in East Brunswick, N.J.

Last week, East Brunswick’s council unanimously voted to revoke LoSacco’s license at that store, prompting him to post a video he called “The Truth About Just Pups.”

Despite the scrutiny, LoSacco still apparently saw no problem with leaving 67 puppies in a parked van in Paramus on a night that temperatures dropped to 35 degrees.

Authorities said that about 3 a.m. Monday, Paramus police officers approached the van and detected the stench of urine and feces.

The officers, hearing whines coming from inside the van, opened an unlocked sliding door and found the dogs.

paramus1Police said the temperature inside the poorly ventilated van was 38 degrees, and that some of the crates did not contain food or water. The small crates held two to four puppies each.

LoSacco on Monday told NorthJersey.com that the van was temperature controlled, and leaving puppies parked in the van overnight was not an uncommon practice.

“It’s not unnormal to leave them in the van, as long as they have air conditioning or heat — depending on the season — and food and water,” LoSacco said. “It’s the same thing with the pet store. People aren’t there 24 hours.”

He denied that the cages were overcrowded, and suggested that any dogs who were covered in feces got that way when police officers loaded the van onto a flatbed truck to transport it.

paramus2As of Monday night, four pups remained at the vet’s office. The rest — golden retrievers, Labradors and terriers — were transferred to Tyco Animal Control, which has contracts with more than 20 municipalities in Bergen and Passaic counties.

The incident is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force, Paramus police detectives and the Paramus Health Department.

The Paramus was closed Monday pending the investigation. It reopened Tuesday.

paramus3Paramus Mayor Richard La­Barbiera said the store had been the subject of complaints in recent weeks from residents about unsanitary conditions and animal cruelty.

The mayor said a Paramus inspector visited the store in response to the complaints and found some unsanitary conditions, but no signs of cruelty. The store was closed for about 24 hours while those sanitary conditions were addressed.

Just Pups has four New Jersey locations — in Paramus, East Hanover, East Brunswick and Emerson, according to its website.

“Just Pups is the only puppy or pet store that you can shop at where you have a 100% guarantee that 100% of our puppies have come from reputable breeders only,” the website says. “..We have never ever purchased a single puppy from a questionable source or a puppy broker.”

In February, LoSacco’s attempts to renew his license for a Just Pups location in Valhalla, N.Y., were denied, according to the New York Daily News.

The charges filed by the NJSPCA against the East Brunswick store came after three dead dogs were found in the store’s freezer on Feb. 29. In total, 267 animal cruelty charges were filed by the NJSPCA, alleging, among other things, that LoSacco exposed puppies to illnesses by commingling healthy and sick animals.

An online petition calling for that store to be shut down and for a state Department of Health investigation into all Just Pups locations has gathered nearly 160,000 signatures.

(Photos: Paramus Police Department)

Kentucky is the most Scrooge-like in survey of what we spend on dogs for Christmas

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Residents of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania spend the most on their dogs at Christmas — and a good three times more than dog owners in Oklahoma and Kentucky, whose residents ranked as the most tight-fisted.

That’s according to a survey called the “Santa Dog Index” that appeared on TheNosePrint.com, an online pet source from Big Heart Pet Brands, the company that makes Milk-Bone and Pup-Peroni.

The survey polled 3,000 Americans about their dog-related holiday habits, including how much they spend on gifts for dogs, their reasoning for spending money on gifts for dogs and how they include their dogs in Christmas traditions.

xmasdog3The survey reported that 71% of people with dogs will give their pups gifts, and 48 percent hang up a stocking for them.

Nearly three-fourths of dog owners said they bestow gifts to their pet to express love. Other popular reasons were “because it’s fun for me” (60 percent) and “so the dog will feel included.”

Just under 30 percent dress their dog in a holiday-themed outfit, and 43 percent include the dog in their Christmas card photos.

The national average for Christmas spending on the dog is $23.10.

Here are the state by state rankings.

1. New Jersey: $30.01
2. New York: $29.55
3. Pennsylvania: $28.75
4. Utah: $27.75
5. Georgia: $27.04
6. California: $26.07
7. Washington: $25.81
8. Florida: $25.13
9. Illinois: $24.98
10. Virginia: $24.58
11. Texas: $24.47
12. Colorado: $24.11
13. Arkansas: $24.00
14. Maryland: $23.79
15. Mississippi: $23.31
16. Alabama: $23.05
17. Massachusetts: $22.91
18. Iowa: $22.86
19. Idaho: $22.83
20. Wyoming: $22.71
21. Ohio: $22.63
22. Wisconsin: $22.47
23. Rhode Island: $22.38
24. Alaska: $21.89
25. Hawaii: $21.75
26. Montana: $21.60
27. South Carolina: $21.53
28. New Hampshire: $21.50
29. Michigan: $21.33
30. West Virginia: $21.00
31. New Mexico: $20.40
32. Indiana: $20.14
33. Louisiana: $19.47
34. Kansas: $18.38
35. Missouri: $18.33
36. Tennessee: $18.19
37. Oregon: $18.07
38. Vermont: $17.67
39. Minnesota: $17.08
40. Arizona: $16.20
41. South Dakota: $15.35
42. North Dakota: $15.25
43. Nevada: $15.00
44. Connecticut: $14.30
45. Delaware: $14.14
46. North Carolina: $13.58
47. Nebraska: $12.00
48. Maine: $11.00
49. Oklahoma: $9.44
50. Kentucky: $8.63

(Photos: Lookanimals.com)