Cops find over 30 dead dogs in New Jersey home; pair charged with animal cruelty, child endangerment

EVESHAM, N.J. (AP) — Two people were charged with animal cruelty and child endangerment after police found the bodies of at least 30 dogs at a home in southern New Jersey this week.

Investigators believe up to 100 dogs died in the home, including many believed to have been buried on the property. Officers found both live and dead dogs in the residence on Monday, along with several cats and rabbits, the Evesham Police Department said.

Nine of the live dogs were taken to an animal hospital for treatment, including several that were in “extremely poor health,” authorities said. One of those dogs eventually had to be euthanized.

Rebecca Halbach, 35, and Brandon Leconey, 32, were arrested Monday in Evesham, a suburb of Philadelphia. Police went to the home after someone associated with an animal rescue group based in North Carolina, which had given the pair money to care for some of its dogs, reported seeing several malnourished and sick dogs around the property.

Authorities said a 9-year-old boy who lived in the home was removed due to the “unhealthy conditions” and was turned over to child welfare officials. It wasn't clear if he was related to either Halbach or Leconey.

When investigators arrived at the scene, they had to open the doors and windows to air out the home before it was safe for them to be inside.

No phone numbers were listed for Halbach or Leconey in public records and authorities did not know if either one had retained an attorney who can speak on their behalf. Authorities said more charges could be filed as the investigation continues.

Leconey was being held in the Burlington County Jail, while Halbach was being evaluated at a hospital for an undisclosed medical condition.