Shelters Caring For Animals Rescued From Brick Home

Photo courtesy Ocean County Scanner News

  OCEAN COUNTY – The 175 malnourished dogs and cats evacuated from a home at 111 Arrowhead Park Drive in Brick Township are receiving care from the Ocean County Health Department.

  Ocean County Health Coordinator Dan Regenye said the department was taking care of 175 of the 180 animals brought in by multiple agencies when the Brick Township Police uncovered the illegal operation and made two arrests.

  Early in the process, 30 dogs and 17 cats were brought to the Northern Ocean County Animal Facility in Jackson while 17 dogs and eight cats were taken to the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter in Manahawkin, while 81 dogs and 12 cats were transported to the county’s Barnegat facility (formerly Barnegat Kennels) which is generally used to shelter animals in emergency situations, he said.

  The animals were first found in a ranch style residence in Brick Township being kept in stacked crates. Regenye told Jersey Shore that he witnessed improvement in the animals who are being well taken care of at county facilities.

  Regenye said that law enforcement agencies wanted to keep the animals as centralized as possible due to the continuing criminal investigation.  The breed and size of the dogs range from chihuahuas to German shepherds, all of whom are now in need of adoption.

  Brick Police, in their initial release, referred to the situation as a puppy mill. Later media reports referred to it as an animal rescue operation that went wrong.

  Aimee J. Lonczak, 49, the owner of Crazy Rescue Ladies Inc. and Michele Nycz, 58, lived at the Arrowhead Park Drive residence with a 16-year-old child. The two women were arrested by Brick Patrolman Scott Smith who serves as the department’s humane law enforcement officer on animal cruelty charges and endangerment of a child.

  Regenye wanted to dispel some commentary he read on social media about the OCHD not having the ability and facilities to handle this number of animals coming in. “We instituted our emergency response plan for animals related to this so not only do we have our Northern and Southern facilities in Jackson and in Stafford but we have the Barnegat Kennels which we operate in an emergency functioning capacity.

  “We housed about 225 animals there during Superstorm Sandy,” he said. Some staff were moved from other locations as they were needed. Some came in from vacation or days off to help care for the animals.

Aimee J. Lonczak and Michele Nycz (Photos courtesy Ocean County Jail)

  He said, “that is where the bulk of these animals are. We have 100 of the 180 at that one facility alone which is strictly the animals from this situation. The balance was split between the Northern and Southern facilities and there is no concern of our being full. That is one of the challenges with it but I can assure that the animals we had prior to this situation and those that were brought in on Saturday are all in an adequate facility and getting care and treatment.

  “Some of the animals had matted fur. Two were found onsite deceased. There was a couple that had to be transported immediately for urgent vet care. The vast majority were stable enough to be transported to one of our three facilities,” Regenye said.

  “We had one situation on Saturday when I was down there that one had to be sent over to an on-call veterinary service to get some treatment. There are different stages. There are animals that are ready to go tomorrow (for adoption) if we had the green light in terms of temperament. We were vaccinating. A lot of these animals were flea infested, worms in the stool so we are deworming. We’re not going to put these animals back out on the street. We are going to find them homes and rescues and we want to put them out in proper shape,” he said. The county facilities have volunteers walking the dogs at outdoor pens.

  “I was down at each of the three sites on Saturday, Sunday and yesterday (December 5) and there is a difference between each of those three days. They are really coming around. They are getting their personality back. Obviously they are a little skittish and scared but I really think they are on a good path and track to make a full recovery. It is good news going forward,” Regenye added.

  He added, that it was a good thing that the situation was identified at the time it was by the township and law enforcement. “They did what they had to do and they  are in good hands now and we are looking forward to getting these dogs and cats into homes and rescues.

  “Most of these (animal) hording situations are well intentioned at the beginning but it quickly escalates. We promote responsible pet ownership with spaying and neutering. We recommend microchipping. The animals who come out of our shelters are spayed or neutered and microchipped and get vaccinations,” he added.

  Regenye said the OCHD appreciates the great response of donations of towels, blankets and other items. “We had to put a trailer at each two of our facilities to handle the amount of items coming in. We are pulling what we need from each of those facilities and pulling the trailer over to Barnegat to meet the need of the animals there,” he said.

  Regenye said that those wishing to make financial donations toward the treatment of these animals, there is an animal health trust fund. Send a check payable to the Ocean County Health Department, 175 Sunset Avenue, Toms River, NJ 08755. In the subject line, write Animal Health Trust Fund or Brick hoarding situation.