Police: Woman charged after 44 deceased dogs found in NJ home; 162 dogs rescued

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Police have arrested a woman who they say kept more than 200 dogs in deplorable and inhumane conditions at her Burlington County home.

Donna Roberts, 65, of Shamong Township, New Jersey, has been charged with animal cruelty.

Detectives responded to Roberts’ home on Oakshade Road Tuesday to assist the Burlington County Health Department with an inspection. Upon their arrival, detectives say they were met with evidence of widespread animal cruelty.

Investigators discovered 162 living dogs on the property. Forty-four others were found deceased, individually packaged in plastic bags and stored in freezers throughout the home.

"The dogs were found to be, both inside and outside, living in their own waste,” said Det. Ian Fenkel.

Rescue workers donned hazmat suits to recover dogs with overgrown nails and matted fur from the property.

The odor of animal feces and ammonia reportedly permeated the home, causing several responders to experience dizziness and nausea. Camden County's Animal Welfare Association cited an "overwhelming amount of fleas" and "urine-filled newspapers" that acted as bedding for the dogs.

Neighbors witnessed the two-day raid unfold from outside the property. 

Against a soundtrack of barking dogs, animal welfare workers cradled bedraggled pups waiting for care inside a mobile triage trailer.

"Your reaction to seeing this finally happen?" FOX 29’s Bruce Gordon asked neighbor Rebecca Voigt.

“Praise the Lord,” Voigt said.

When asked what went through his mind as he watched the investigation play out, neighbor Tim Whitcraft spoke of the hoards rescued.

“Justice,” Whitcraft answered. "Justice, for the dogs."

"The deplorable and inhumane living conditions the rescued dogs were forced to endure is tragic," said Col. Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police.

Police say four of the living dogs were in critical condition. Those dogs were transported to an emergency veterinary clinic for treatment. The remaining dogs were evaluated and treated before being transported to various shelters across the Delaware Valley where they will ultimately be up for adoption.

The Monmouth County SPCA and St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center are among the many local shelters that have taken in dogs rescued from Roberts' property.

Area shelters are reaching out for donations, supplies and potential fosters as they face a massive influx of neglected dogs. A list of shelters that have taken in dogs from the Shamong Township rescue and are accepting donations can be found below.

Roberts was charged and released with a pending court date.