90 dogs removed from animal rescue group

VERNON. Gizela Juric and Ronald Colgan, owners of the property, are charged with six counts of animal cruelty.

Vernon /
| 23 Feb 2024 | 11:45

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) assisted in the removal of more than 90 maltreated dogs from the property of a self-described animal rescue group in Vernon Township on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Gizela Juric and Ronald Colgan, owners of the property on Grove Trail in the Pleasant Lake section, were charged with six counts of animal cruelty related to dead dogs found on the property and the alleged failure to provide the animals with necessary care, said Acting Supervising Assistant Prosecutor/Special Deputy Attorney General Brent Rafuse of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Juric previously was charged with animal cruelty Feb. 2 in connection with the death of a fifth dog in her care.

The Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office and Vernon Township Police Department requested the ASPCA’s help after law enforcement seized the animals, including young puppies. They were found living among their feces and urine and exposed to high levels of ammonia.

Some of the animals had dirty, severely matted coats, and one dog was found with nails matted into the fur. Some dogs were underweight and had untreated medical conditions, including eye infections and injuries. Several dogs were living in cars, and dead dogs were found on the property.

Vernon Mayor Anthony Rossi said, “I’m pleased to share my gratitude to the Vernon Police Department and the ASPCA for all their hard work in rescuing all of these animals.”

Teresa Ladner, senior director of investigations for the ASPCA, said, “The ASPCA is grateful to be in a position where we can collaborate with local agencies across the country to provide critical resources and expertise to rescue at-risk animals and bring them to safety.

“It’s clear these dogs were not receiving adequate treatment despite the fact that they were under the care of a self-described animal rescue group, and we commend the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Vernon Township Police Department for intervening to help end their suffering.”

Acting Prosecutor Carolyn Murray acknowledged the Vernon police and ASPCA for their assistance in the ongoing investigation.

The ASPCA is transporting the dogs to its Cruelty Recovery Center, a facility dedicated to providing temporary sheltering, medical care, and behavioral treatment and enrichment to animals rescued from emergency situations, such as suspected cruelty and neglect.

It also is assisting with operational planning, evidence collection, crime scene processing, veterinary forensics exams and behavior evaluations.

In addition, the ASPCA is providing investigative and legal assistance to further support the investigation and prosecution and to ensure the best legal outcome for the animals.