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150 Animals Discovered At Howell Home

A Howell woman faces a slew of animal cruelty charges after more than 100 were taken out of her home over the weekend.

Monmouth County SPCA Chief Victor "Buddy" Amato
Monmouth County SPCA Chief Victor “Buddy” Amato (

The Asbury Park Press reports the animals were removed by the Monmouth County SPCA on Sunday from the Maxim Southard Road property of 56-year-old Mercedes Lopez who also tried to strike a police officer during her arrest.

Victor “Buddy” Amato, chief humane law enforcement officer for MSPCA, says several animals were suffering serious health ailments. “When we got there, there was one cat literally dying in front of us,” Amato told the Press.. “There was also another dog who had no use of his hind legs and was just dragging himself around. Everywhere you looked there was a cat.”

Amato says the state SPCA was tipped off that sick animals were being sold from the address.

While it’s a bad situation, Lopez is “not a bad person” says Amato. He says she loved the animals, couldn’t bring herself to get rid of any and found herself in over her head. One person “can’t take care of that many animals,” said Amato.

Amato estimates there were around 200 animals on the property including 50 roosters, 40 dogs, 15 to 20 rabbits, one raccoon and at least 100 cats on the property. He says the MSPCA is not planning a return visit. The animals will be evaluated and will be put up for adoption at the MSPCA’s Eatontown and Freehold locations.

A handful will have to be euthanized.


Amato says thery also found the skeletal remains of some of the animals in the back of the home, as well as 30 carcasses that hadn’t fully decomposed.

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