NORTH BERGEN, NJ --Police on Wednesday removed as many as 50 dogs, more than a dozen of them puppies, and cats from a New Jersey home in a case of what they are calling animal hoarding.
Officers responded after receiving a call from a concerned resident who hadn't seen the homeowner for some time.
North Bergen Police Sergeant David Dowd said officers went to the home on Hillcrest Avenue and found the door open and dogs running around inside of the two-story structure.
He said there were no signs of abuse, but that there seemed to be some evidence of neglect. Authorities say the interior of the home was covered with urine and feces, and the dogs looked like they hadn't been fed or given water recently. But they say the animals are nearly all in good shape.
"The house is deplorable," animal cruelty investigator Geoffrey Santini said. "There's urine and feces everywhere, the beds were covered with...the animals took over the house. So that's why it's a hoarding case. There might be some mental illness. But the most important thing is we're worrying about the animals' welfare and the humane treatment of them, get them out of here to no-kill shelters."
According to police, the homeowner is nowhere to be found, and Dowd said investigators are checking with local hospitals during their search.
Police say for their safety, the animals have been handed over to Animal Control, who will house them until the homeowner can be reached.