CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Four Cape May County residents were indicted Tuesday on multiple charges of animal cruelty stemming from a Dec. 18 raid in which about 60 dogs were seized from a home in Middle Township.
That raid, conducted by officers from the major crimes squad of the SPCA Humane Police, the Middle Township Police Department, the Atlantic County SPCA and the Humane Society of Atlantic County, led to the arrest of Dawn Scheld, 46, who was charged with animal cruelty. She was released from the Cape May County jail on Jan. 13 after posting bail.
A grand jury Tuesday charged Dawn Scheld, Leroy Thomas Jr., Leann Thomas and Kevin Scheld.
The Schelds and Leroy Thomas had the most serious charges, with nine counts of animal cruelty.
Col. Frank Rizzo, the superintendent of the New Jersey State SPCA Humane Police, told The Press in December that 57 dogs were found on the Goshen property “in deplorable conditions.”
The charges included five counts of cruelty in the third degree for causing the deaths of five dogs, identified as Tata, Mason, Bubbles, Nash and Lita, and four counts in the fourth degree for harming four other dogs, Murphy, Sadie, Clara and a dog known as puppy No. 23.
Dawn Scheld and Leroy Thomas Jr., listed as the owners of the Goshen property where the raid took place, are also charged with two counts of hindering their apprehension and the second-degree crime of using a juvenile in the commission of a crime, namely animal cruelty.
Dawn Scheld, Leroy Thomas Jr., Kevin Scheld and Leann Thomas are also charged with conspiracy to commit animal cruelty, a fourth-degree offense.
In addition, Dawn Scheld and Leroy Thomas Jr. are charged with two counts of the sale of sick or contagious animals while doing business under the name SOS Rescue and Rehabilitation in July and December of last year.
County Prosecutor Robert Taylor said Tuesday that his office would continue to work with the SPCA as the case progresses.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Taylor said. “My office takes these offenses very seriously.”
The investigators said the day of the raid that Scheld told them she went to shelters in New Jersey and out of state to rescue dogs.
Inside the home, investigators said, there were 35 dogs in one room on the first floor of the house where there were piles of fresh feces on the floor. Other dogs were in kennels outside the house.
Those dogs have since been treated and are being housed in animal shelters in several New Jersey counties.
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