Watch CBS News

NJ Pet Shop Owner Accused Of Selling Sick Puppies As State Lawmaker Looks To Tighten Laws On Dog Breeders

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A pet store owner in New Jersey has been arrested over accusations he sold sick puppies after being ordered to stop.

This, as more legislation is on the way to try to keep large-scale dog breeders and so-called puppy mills from making money in the state.

The shop in Woodbridge called "Fancy Pups'' was shut down by police on Christmas Eve.

The store's owner, Rocco Garruto, was arrested Sunday after authorities said he was trying to sell dogs from his car sales business.

Dennis Green, the director of Health and Human Services, said the store has been shut before but continued operating.

Animal Control and the state SPCA said the store has racked up violations for a long time, including complaints from customers that he sold them sick animals.

"We had given him warnings and recommendations many months ago in order to fix the problems that were occurring in his location, he failed to do that. The Department of Health also gave him recommendations, he failed to follow those. So we were left with no recourse other than to go in and take action," SPCA Chief Frank Rizzo told 1010 WINS.

Garruto, who denies the allegations, faces over 100 counts, including animal cruelty.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Sen. Raymond Lesniak is pushing a bill that would require pet sales to be done in person and for pet shops to buy animals only from kennels, rescue groups and shelters, WCBS 880's Levon Putney reported.

But Barbara Reichman said the move is premature.

"It seems premature to be proposing such a drastic measure right on the heels of this new bill that was just signed by the governor and has only been in effect for about six months," she said.

Reichman is with the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs.

"That provision requires that all pet stores that are selling puppies or kittens purchase those animals from a USDA-licensed breeding operation and one that has no direct violations for two years," she said.

Lesniak's bill will be taken up in 2016, Putney reported.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.