A 65-year-old New Jersey woman faces an animal cruelty charge after authorities say they found 44 dead dogs in plastic bags in her freezers and more than 160 dogs living in deplorable conditions in and around her home.
Detectives helping out the Burlington County Health Department with an inspection Tuesday made the grisly discoveries at the Oakshade Road home of Donna Roberts in Shamong Township. State Police say the smell of animal feces and ammonia permeated the entire residence, and several first responders actually got nauseous and dizzy because of the odor.
Ultimately, detectives found more than 160 living dogs in the residence. Four of them were in critical condition and had to be taken to an emergency clinic; the rest were evaluated and treated at the scene by animal shelter workers.
The 44 dead dogs were found packaged in bags in various freezers throughout the home, authorities say.
Roberts was released from custody with a future court date. It wasn't immediately clear if she had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
It's still not clear how the 44 dogs died, but investigators say that's not the point.
"Although the circumstances surrounding the demise of the 44 dogs that were discovered inside plastic bags in freezers remain under investigation, the deplorable and inhumane living conditions the rescued dogs were forced to endure is tragic," Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police said in a statement. "Troopers take an oath to protect and safeguard life, including the lives and well-being of pets, which can be vulnerable to abuse."