YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A veterinary tech pleaded guilty in Hackensack to animal cruelty today, then was fined $5,500 and ordered to provide 40 hours of community service for jamming dozens of German Shepherds jammed into tiny crates — some of them in a basement area that authorities said resembled a dungeon — at a Ridgefield Park animal hospital.
Edison Davalos, who faced 71 counts of animal cruelty, pleaded guilty in Central Municipal Court to 11 of the counts in exchange for no prison time.
He must meet a payment schedule to satisfy the fine or be sent to the Bergen County Jail for 45 days.
Davalos, of North Bergen, was charged after investigators from the Bergen County SPCA said they found pure-bred, full-sized dogs and puppies jammed into the Ridgefield Park Animal Hospital on Main Street — in an operation that was exclusively reported here ( SEE: Bergen County SPCA rescues 40 German Shepherds from Ridgefield Park animal hospital ).
“Some of the crates were so small, the dogs were unable to stand up,” Investigator Evan Kutzin told CLIFFVIEW PILOT the night of the May 4 raid. “One crate big enough for only one had three full-sized dogs inside.”
In the basement, SPCA workers said they found a crate containing two full-sized dogs and another with a full-sized dog and six puppies.
More crates were found in the gated backyard of the Main Street facility, along with three dogs running loose.
“I have one of my own and it takes time to properly feed and groom and walk him,” Kutzin said. “I can’t image 40 dogs getting anywhere close to the treatment they need.”
A tipster led authorities to the clinic, where investigators first spotted the loose dogs out back. The team included Kutzin, Bergen County SPCA Lt. Roni Wildoner and investigators Chris Riley and Bryan Thomson.
The clinic was closed for the day, so they summoned Davalos, who was home for the weekend.
He arrived soon after and let them in.
“We couldn’t even count at first,” Kutzin told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “There were three back rooms that I guess you’d call exam rooms with crates. One room had eight dogs in it, another had five.
animal cruelty or neglect in Bergen County (
Owner Paul Kim — who wasn’t charged — agreed to sign over more than two dozen dogs to the SPCA, which was taking them to the Bergen County Animal Shelter & Adoption Center in Teterboro.
Just about all have been adopted, authorities said.
Meanwhile, 11 were returned to their owners — some of them to Davalos.
They ranged in age from 5 weeks to seven years old, with most being under 2, Wildoner said. Half were reportedly under 6 months old.
Davalos originally said he didn’t mistreat the dogs, who he said were given to him by owners who couldn’t care for them any longer. He said he intended to find new homes for them.
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