Two former animal shelter directors in Hamilton Township, New Jersey on Thursday, have been accused of allowing 230 cats and nearly 100 dogs to be illegally euthanized before they could be placed up for adoption – a violation of state law.
According to CbsNews, Todd Bencivengo, 57, and Jeff Plunkett, 63, are facing third degree animal cruelty and misconduct charges. Prosecutors contend between January 1, 2016 until October 1, 2018, 236 cats and 93 dogs were euthanized without offering them up for adoption for at least seven days as required by law.
An investigation began in August when the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice received multiple complaints about the Hamilton Animal Shelter.
Plunkett had been the director of the shelter and the township’s director of health at the time. He resigned earlier this year as Hamilton Township director of health and recreation, but still serves as the township’s health officer. The New Jersey Department of Health has sent notice they intend to revoke his health officer license.
Plunkett and Bencivengo, the previous supervisor of the shelter, were arrested in May after authorities uncovered examples of mismanagement. At the time, there was insufficient evidence of additional criminal charges against the men.
On Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office said Bencivengo had been accepted into an intervention program on Oct. 23.
Volunteers at the shelter had been concerned with disappearing animals; no explanations were ever given. They said there were enough kennels, the dogs were not aggressive or sick, and they were not dying. Still dogs were being euthanized.
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