New Jersey officials rescued more than 275 dogs Friday from a single home in what local officials described as “the worst hoarding situation” ever seen.
According to NBC News New York, authorities rescued 276 small dogs after an Associated Humane Society official was trying to locate the home of a dog that had gotten loose in a New Jersey neighbourhood late last month.
The official went door-to-door when he came upon a home where several dogs were barking and a foul odour was emanating from the house.
The Monmouth County SPCA was notified of the home and an investigation was launched.
“The 276 dogs that were rescued from the worst animal hoarding case in the history of Monmouth County are safe and sound this morning in shelters,” Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Ross Licitra, chief enforcement officer for the Monmouth County SPCA, told NJ.com the investigating officer was shocked after the family opened the door to their small, split-level home.
“When you opened the door, there were at least 80 dogs staring at you – lined up on shelves like statues,” Licitra described to news website.
The SPCA said the rescued dogs were mainly small breeds, Chihuahuas and Pugs and Terriers.
Deputy Tierney Park told NBC News, the family built a shelf near the ceiling in their living room for dogs to sit on.
“It’s like a hamster cage for dogs,” Park told the news station. “They have steps that go up to the shelf and there were just dogs looking down at you and barking.”
The SPCA said it took 15 hours to remove the dogs from the home while some were living between walls.
“There are dogs hiding under couches, there are dogs hiding under wherever they can and they are absolutely petrified,” Park said.
According to NBC News, the family face charges of failing to provide veterinary care and offering inhumane living conditions.
The dogs will be put up for adoption once the animals are medically cleared.