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Animal cruelty charges for NJ sanctuary owner who saved pets after Sandy

group of five dogs sitting in front of a white background

JACKSON — The owner of an animal sanctuary is facing charges after two dogs died in her care as a result of what authorities are calling “inhumane conditions.”

The New Jersey SPCA announced the charges against Laura Pople, 55, the director of Seers Farm in the township. According to Frank Rizzo, chief of the NJSPCA the charges are connected to the death of one of two dogs Pople took in after a fire in Jersey City in March 2016. The two dogs, who Rizzo identified as Rocky and Fluffy both died in January of last year.

Rizzo said the SPCA was only able to gather enough evidence to charge Pople for the death of Rocky.

“From the evidence obtained during the course of our investigation it became clear that Director Pople caused the death of Rocky by failing to provide proper shelter and housed the dog in inhumane conditions,” Rizzo said.

According to Rizzo, the dog died of “cardio respiratory failure as a result of pulmonary vascular thrombosis.” The thrombosis, he said, was likely caused by bacterial pneumonia, and that Rocky had no prior history of illness before staying at the sanctuary.

Pople was charged with two counts of animal cruelty, one of the counts being a criminal charge and the other a civil charge. She is scheduled to appear in the Jackson Municipal Court on Oct. 19.

In a statement to New Jersey 101.5, Pople said the sanctuary has helped “more than 2,000 animals whose families have faced devastating life crises.”

“The animals placed with us often have significant health issues that are a result of the crises that initiated their placement,” she said. “It is truly unfortunate that these dogs passed away, but their deaths were not caused by Seer Farms.”

In 2013 the township issued several citations to Pople claiming that those kinds of businesses are not permitted in a residential zone. She had taken in animals displaced by superstorm Sandy and had started the organization to help those animals affected by Hurricane Katrina. According to the Asbury Park Press, in the wake of Sandy the sanctuary had more than 300 pets on the property, including more than 100 from Seaside Heights.

According to the Press article, Pople and the township agreed on a cap for the number of animals she could have on the property and other measures.

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