Animal cruelty charges lodged against pet owners

ABelford woman pleaded guilty to 81 counts of failure to provide proper sustenance to her pets last week, according to Chief Victor “Buddy” Amato of the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown.

Amato said Marlene D. Sandford was fined $5,000 Dec. 11 in Middletown Municipal Court by Judge Michael Puglisi.

Sandford was charged with 81 counts of animal cruelty on July 23; Amato said MCSPCA law enforcement personnel removed more than 100 dogs from her house. “Several were pregnant. Many dogs died at the shelter,” he said.

Sandford also pleaded guilty to seven other charges, including animal abuse, Amato said, and was ordered to pay $7,000, for a total of $12,00 in fines. She will also be subject to unannounced inspections by the MCSPCA and was ordered by the court to comply in a timely manner with all township zoning ordinances regarding kennels.

Amato said most of the dogs recovered were purebred Chihuahuas and that all of the animals removed became the property of the shelter.

In another case, Amato said a Neptune man was charged with abandoning his dog.

According to Amato, Stephen Wilkerson, of Neptune, came to the Eatontown shelter on Dec. 8 to surrender his female American pit bull.

Amato said he was informed that he would have to make an appointment to do so and that there was a wait of a week. He was also informed that the dog could be surrendered immediately at the Associated Humane Society Shelter on Shafto Road.

According to Amato, Wilkerson left and drove to Old Deal Road in Eatontown, and was seen by a witness allegedly taking the dog into the woods, running back to the car and leaving.

The witness took down the license plate number and called Eatontown police, who intercepted Wilkerson and detained him, Amato said.

MCSPCA Law enforcement personnel and Eatontown police placed him under arrest. Wilkerson was charged with four counts of animal cruelty, one criminal and one civil count for abandonment, and one criminal charge and one civil charge of abuse of a living creature.

According to Amato, the charges carry a minimum of $2,000 in fines. A court date will be set in Eatontown. Amato said the young female pit bull is at the shelter and available for a foster home.