Animal Shop Near me
AVENEL — Rocco Garruto, a pet shop owner who has been arrested and charged with scores of counts of animal abuse and neglect, said in an interview that the authorities are the ones who have been abusive.
"They shackled me to a pipe for four hours, " Garruto said. "No food, no water, no supervision, no shelter, and no care. I screamed out for 30 minutes, having an anxiety attack. Who's being cruel and inhuman? Who was shackled to a pipe in handcuffs?"
Garruto has been in medical treatment — for anxiety and high blood pressure — since the ordeal began with an inspection at Fancy Pups on Saint Georges Avenue on Dec. 8.
The New Jersey Society for the Protection of Animals said that Garruto kept dogs in squalid cages, covered in feces and urine, without access to water. On Christmas Eve, authorities said they learned that Garruto was continuing to sell dogs, even after a quarantine order stemming from the Dec. 8 inspection. A stronger court order went into effect on Christmas Eve, but Garruto kept selling dogs and was arrested, the authorities said.
But Garruto said he's the victim of overzealous authorities who made things personal and wanted to shut down his shop because they don't like pet shops at all.
"The truth is, no matter where your puppy store is, no matter how much you clean it, no matter how much you work with a vet, at the end of the day, no town wants a puppy store, " Garruto said. "They think everybody buys from puppy mills."
That's not the case for him, Garruto said. For the 12 years he's owned the shop, he has bought the puppies through reputable breeders, he said.
"I hate puppy mills, " he said.
The dogs that township and NJSPCA police found on Sunday at an auto dealership — allegedly for sale, leading to a contempt of court charge and his arrest — belonged to Garruto himself, he said.
Garruto acknowledged that four of the dogs for sale at Fancy Pups had giardia, a parasite, which he said they were in treatment for. On Dec. 8, the day of the inspection, one of his employees was late for work, he said, so when investigators arrived the dogs were covered in their own feces and urine.
Other than that, however, Fancy Pups was in good condition, and the dogs were healthy, Garruto said. A court date originally set for Wednesday will be postponed owing to his health issues, Garruto said.
While he understands criticism of for-profit pet shops, he said, he also knows that some people want specific, high-end breeds with pedigrees, like German shepherds, a niche that dog sellers like him can fulfill.
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