Woman indicted after 44 deceased dogs found in NJ home; 162 dogs rescued

Donna Roberts, 66, was indicted on animal cruelty charges after hundreds of dogs were found amid deplorable conditions in her New Jersey home. ( New Jersey State Police, Lindsay Sanator via Monmouth County SPCA )

A New Jersey woman has been indicted on animal cruelty charges after prosecutors say she kept more than 200 dogs in deplorable and inhumane conditions at her Burlington County home.

Donna Roberts, 66, of Shamong Township, was indicted Tuesday on eight counts of third-degree animal cruelty resulting in death or bodily injury.

Detectives responded to Roberts' home on Oakshade Road in December 2018 to assist the Burlington County Health Department with an inspection. Upon their arrival, detectives said 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.

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

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 said four of the living dogs were in critical condition. Those dogs were transported to an emergency veterinary clinic for treatment. One dog later died of their injuries. The remaining dogs were evaluated and treated before being transported to various shelters across the Delaware Valley, where they were ultimately put up for adoption.

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

A list of shelters that took dogs from the Shamong Township raid can be found below.

Roberts was not detained pending trial, but has been forbidden by a judge from owning, possessing or caring for any animals. Her arraignment will take place at Burlington County Superior Court on a date yet to be determined.

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