Ex-NJ animal control officer faces more than 100 counts of cruelty

When authorities arrived at the Monmouth County New Jersey house of a former animal control officer on Sunday they found more than 200 animals living in squalor and the carcasses of at least another 30 more strewn about the property.  

 More than 100 animals, including dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits and a domesticated raccoon, were seized from the home of Mercedes Lopez, 56, of Howell.

 Lopez was charged with numerous counts each of failure to provide sustenance, including grooming and veterinary care, and failure to provide shelter for the more than 200 animals that lived on the property, said Victor “Buddy” Amato, chief humane law enforcement officer for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

 “When we got there, there was one cat literally dying in front of us,” Amato told the Asbury Park Press. “There was also another dog who had no use of his hind legs and was just dragging himself around. Everywhere you looked there was a cat.”

 Several animals were in such bad shape they had to be euthanized, he said.

About 25 cats were found living in the home’s basement, some of which had upper respiratory infections and eye diseases, Amato said.  

 “I can go on and on and on,” he said. “Then we got the dead animals out in the back to deal with, so this is a pretty big thing going on here.”

The skeletal remains of some of the animals were found in the back of the home, as well as 30 carcasses that hadn’t fully decomposed, the chief said. 

Lopez, whose license to work as an animal control officer was revoked last year, has been the subject of complaints lodged with county health department for years, according to animal welfare advocates.

Lopez on Sunday also struck a police officer trying to arrest her, but he was uninjured. It was unclear whether she will be charged with assault, Amato said.

Amato described Lopez as a hoarder with good intentions, but Craigs List email traffic indicates she was buying dogs from an illegal breeder busted in Philadelphia by the PSPCA last year.

Daniel Carlin, 27, was cited last September for 42 counts of animal cruelty. and  21 dogs , including Jack Russell terriers, Shih Tzus, labs and a beagle among others were removed from the property. Some of the dogs, which included 11 puppies, were ill or exposed to other ill dogs.

Video of Lopez's home and some of the animals seized from NJ-News12 here.

More pictures of conditions in which Lopez's animals were living posted on Petwatch NJ Facebook page here.