Dozens of dead and dying dogs in cages, child removed from NJ home
🐶 A North Carolina rescue that sent dogs to New Jersey became suspicious
🐶 A staffer sent to pick up the shelter's dogs was horrified at what he found
🐶 Over 30 dead dogs were found inside the house with more in a backyard hole
EVESHAM — Over a dozen malnourished dogs, cats and rabbits and 30 dead dogs were found by police inside and outside a home Monday following a report of cruelty from a North Carolina shelter checking on a dog they sent there.
Officers entering the home on Main Street in Evesham found it in poor condition with animals both dead and alive throughout the house in cages, according to Evesham Police Chief Walt Miller.
Nine of the dogs were taken to the Mt. Laurel Animal Hospital including several in extremely poor health and one that had to be euthanized.
A 9-year-old boy was also living at the home and is now in the care of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency, according to Miller.
Investigators estimate that over 100 dogs may have died at the home. Miller said during a press briefing Tuesday afternoon that in addition to the bodies in the house they found a hole covered by a tarp in the backyard with a "large number" of dogs inside.
Rebecca Halbach, 35, and Brandon Leconey, 32 were charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree animal cruelty. Leconey was being held at the Burlington County Jail. Halbach was hospitalized for an unrelated medical condition before being transported to jail pending a detention hearing.
Miller did not know the relationship between Halbach and Leconey.
Lack of pictures raise suspicions
Janice Thompson, the owner of the Tender Mercies Pet Organization of Macclesfield, North Carolina, told New Jersey 101.1 she sent three female dogs named Brandy, Roxy and Shadow and their puppies to Halbach.
"When we partner with a rescue we constantly ask for updates," Thompson said.
Thompson began to get suspicious when Halbach wouldn't send a picture of the puppies before finally telling her that they were adopted.
"So I asked him for pictures of the mammas. When they sent pictures of the mama I says 'the dog don't look healthy.' I said I want a full-body picture. She never would send us a full-body picture," Thompson said. "I said we want pictures this weekend or we're coming to get our dogs."
Thompson said Halbach sent a picture purported to be Shadow that made her suspicious.
"I sent her back a text. I said that is not Shadow,'" Thompson said.
Dogs in bad conditon
Thompson asked a member of her staff to make the drive to New Jersey to pick up Shadow. At that point, Halbach admitted Shadow had died. Her staff member made the trip and was horrified at what he found.
"When we get there those dogs are in such bad condition. Our transporter immediately called the police," Thompson said.
The transporter took Brandy and Roxy to a vet and had a veterinarian examine them at the cost of $1,600.
Miller asked anyone with information about the case or who provided animals to Halbach or Leconey, to contact the department at 856-983-1116, their confidential tipline at 856-983-4699 or text text ETPDTIP to 847411.