Middletown NJ home raided by SPCA

SPCA descends on in-home puppy mill

80 dogs rescued from Middletown "nightmare"


A woman was using her home to breed and sell dogs, some of them sick, an official from the Monmouth County SPCA said Thursday after rescuing 80 dogs from the canine-packed house.

Basset hounds, a blue-nose pit bull terrier, a handful of Dachshunds, and mainly Chihuahuas were among the 80 dogs being carted away from 27 7th St., here, which was littered with dog feces and urine, said Victor "Buddy" Amato, chief law enforcement officer for Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The homeowner, Marlene Sandford, 56, was charged with 85 counts of animal cruelty, with each count liable to a $1,000 fine, Amato said.

However, since Sandford willingly signed over the dogs to the SPCA, Amato said she might receive more leniency in court.

"We uncovered a nightmare inside," said Amato, who was alerted to the home after getting a report of a sick-looking dog at about 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Sandford, who was at the house at the time, declined to comment.

Amato said a resident who lives on the same street complained that they had purchased a dog from Sandford that then turned out to be sick.

When police and SPCA workers arrived they found a house littered with dog feces and permeated with the stench of urine.

"You couldn't even stand in there and breathe for five minutes," Amato said. "One area was completely infested with dogs. There was no water; the bowls that we did see were infested with feces."

Amato said within the two-story light gray house, the rooms were literally teeming with dogs, including three female Chihuahuas who had recent litters of puppies.

SPCA officers uncovered dogs in small locations such as closets throughout the house.

"We found one dog in the stove," Amato said.

In the pouring afternoon rain, Amato, with the help of township animal control officers, loaded the dogs into cages in four vans to be transported to SPCA headquarters in Eatontown where they would be processed, including an examination by a staff veterinarian, and then put up for adoption, Amato said.

Amato said Sandford was essentially using her home to breed and sell dogs.

What they found, said Amato, was an in-home puppy mill.

"She is running a business out of this house," Amato said. "She is basically using her home to sell dogs."

Amato said the dog Sandford sold to a neighbor for approximately $600 was infected with Giardia, a highly contagious disease where a parasite infects the dog's intestine.

Several other dogs appeared to have "red eye" or "cherry eyes," an eye infection.

"She was selling sick dogs to local residents," Amato said.