A 65-year-old woman was charged with animal cruelty after 44 dead dogs were found on her Burlington County property, New Jersey state police said Wednesday.
Authorities also found 161 dogs living in filthy conditions around Donna Roberts' home on the 500 block of Oakshade Road in Shamong Township when they executed a search warrant on Tuesday, state police said.
"Although the circumstances surrounding the demise of the 44 dogs that were discovered inside plastic bags in freezers remain under investigation, the deplorable and inhumane living conditions the rescued dogs were forced to endure is tragic," Col. Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said in a statement. "Troopers take an oath to protect and safeguard life, including the lives and well-being of pets, which can be vulnerable to abuse."
The pervasive odor of animal feces and ammonia caused several responders to experience dizziness and nausea, state police said.
A state police detective told the Burlington County Times that the conditions were so terrible the house was condemned.
Complaints by neighbors and others about the property led to the township passing an ordinance in October that resulted in the raid on Tuesday, the Times reported.
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a statement: "When contact with the occupant raised concerns about the welfare of animals on the property, we sought a search warrant, which was then executed by the state police. We are appalled by the horrendous conditions these dogs were subjected to, and as a result I authorized charges against the property owner, Donna Roberts."
Roberts was released with a pending court date, state police said.
Four dogs required transport to an emergency veterinary clinic. The rest were evaluated and treated at the scene by animal shelter workers, state police said.
The Monmouth County SPCA posted photos of some of the dogs on its Facebook page for anyone who wishes to help.