A New Jersey health officer and the former head of a town’s animal shelter are accused of animal abuse and mismanagement after hundreds of cats and dogs were illegally euthanized over a three-year period, NJ.com reported.
Jerry Plunkett, 62, the Hamilton health director, and Todd Bencivengo, 56, the town’s former supervisor of the animal shelter, each were charged with two counts of third-degree animal cruelty and one count each of second-degree official misconduct, according to a news release from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
According to NJ.com, the prosecutor’s office began its investigation of the shelter after receiving two complaints. The Humane Law Enforcement Unit of the prosecutor’s officer determined the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter euthanized 236 cats and 93 dogs, according to a news release.
New Jersey law requires animal shelters to hold animals -- or put them up for adoption -- for at least seven days before deciding to euthanize them, NJ.com reported.
"Today is a sad day for Hamilton Township,” Democratic council members Jeff Martin, Rick Tighe and Anthony Carabelli Jr. said in a joint statement. “Council, along with the shelter investigation sub-committee, are reviewing the charges and information brought to light by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and will take all appropriate steps after completing their review. Our goal remains the same: to have a shelter which treats all animals humanely.”
Plunkett and Bencivengo are scheduled to appear May 21 in Superior Court of Mercer County, NJ.com reported.