FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals signed complaints charging a Howell couple with more than 550 counts of animal cruelty, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Charlene and Joseph Handrik, of Bennett Road in Howell Township, are charged with 276 counts of Animal Cruelty for inflicting unnecessary cruelty upon a living animal or creature by providing inhumane living conditions and an additional 276 counts of Animal Cruelty for failing to provide proper and necessary veterinary care to their dogs. All of the charges are disorderly persons offenses.
“After extensive discussions between the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a review of the animal cruelty statute, the decision was made to charge the Handriks with disorderly persons animal cruelty charges as opposed to indictable animal cruelty charges,” Ross Licitra, Interim President, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Law Enforcement Officer at the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MCSPCA).
“This decision was due in large part to the miraculous fact that despite living in deplorable conditions and not receiving proper veterinary care, the dogs seized from the residence were in relatively good physical health,” said Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Additional charges are expected to be filed against the Handriks, including charges for not properly licensing and vaccinating their animals. The case is expected to be prosecuted in the Howell Township Municipal Court.
MCSPCA was called in by the Howell Township Animal Control, on Friday, June 3, after responding to call about a stray dog running around the neighborhood prompted concern about the number of dogs inside the Bennett Road home.
MCSPCA, the along with the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Howell Township Police Department, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center and Associated Humane Societies responded to the scene where 276 dogs were discovered living in deplorable conditions.
The Handriks could face substantial fines and penalties, if found guilty on all counts.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
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