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Dogs rescued from living in filthy conditions in New Jersey


A self-claimed animal rescue group in Vernon Township, NJ is facing animal cruelty charges

zef art / stock.adobe.com

zef art / stock.adobe.com

On February 20, 2024, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) assisted in the removal of more than 90 maltreated dogs from the property of a self-claimed animal rescue in Vernon Township, New Jersey, requested by the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office and the Vernon Township Police Department.1 According to a news release, the dogs found, including young puppies, were confiscated by law enforcement because of the unsanitary living conditions they were discovered in. The animals were surrounded by their waste and exposed to elevated ammonia levels. Some of the animals exhibited soiled and severely tangled fur, with 1 dog suffering from ingrown nails so long that they matted into the fur. Additionally, some dogs were malnourished and were dealing with untreated medical issues such as eye infections and injuries. Sadly, several deceased dogs were found on the premises, too.1

Acting Supervising Assistant Prosecutor/Special Deputy Attorney General, Brent Rafuse of the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office has formally charged the property owners, Gizela Juric and Ronald Colgan, in a criminal complaint comprising 6 counts of animal cruelty. These charges come from the mistreatment that led to the death of dogs on the property, as well as neglecting to acquire necessary veterinary care for the remaining animals. This is not the first time Gizela Juric has faced animal cruelty charges. On February 2, 2024, Juric was charged with the death of a dog under her supervision.1

"The ASPCA is grateful to be in a position where we can collaborate with local agencies across the country to provide critical resources and expertise to rescue at-risk animals and bring them to safety," said Teresa Ladner, senior director of investigations for the ASPCA in the release. "It's clear these dogs were not receiving adequate treatment despite the fact that they were under the care of a self-described animal rescue group, and we commend the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office and the Vernon Township Police Department for intervening to help end their suffering."1

The ASPCA is relocating the dogs to its Cruelty Recovery Center, an establishment dedicated to offering temporary shelter, medical attention, and behavioral therapy to animals rescued from emergencies, including instances of suspected cruelty and neglect.1 In addition, the ASPCA is actively involved in operational planning, evidence collection, crime scene processing, veterinary forensics examinations, and behavior assessments that are currently in progress. Pending the collection of evidence by the ASPCA and the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office, animal cruelty charges are anticipated.

The ASPCA is contributing investigative and legal support to enhance the ongoing inquiry and prosecution efforts, ensuring the optimal legal outcome for the animals involved. It is essential to note that the charges are allegations at this stage, as the charges have not yet gone to court and the defendant has not yet been proven guilty.


More than 90 maltreated dogs and puppies seized from self-described animal rescue group in New Jersey. News release. ASPCA. February 21, 2024. Accessed February 22, 2024. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/more-than-90-maltreated-dogs-and-puppies-seized-from-self-described-animal-rescue-group-in-new-jersey-302067868.html

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