Officers from the Cumberland County SPCA are investigating whether animal cruelty was involved in the deaths of ten dogs who were killed in a fire.
Officials say seven pit bull puppies and three adult pit bulls were being kept in a small building behind a home on East Pear Street in downtown Vineland. The building went up in flames on Friday, killing all ten animals. Officials say an electric space heater may have caused the blaze. They are now investigating whether there was any neglect.
“Apparently they were not contained in a safe manner,” said Bev Greco of the Cumberland County SPCA. “You’ve got illegal breeding and I’m sure you have an illegal kennel. Now they’re all dead because they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
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Investigators say the owner of the dogs doesn’t actually live where the dogs were kept. They’re now trying to figure out how the animals ended up inside. One woman told NBC10’s Ted Greenberg that her daughter owned the property where the fire happened.
“Did she know the dogs were there?” asked Greenberg.
“I don’t know,” replied the woman. “She works all day.”
Investigators are currently trying to track down the dog’s owner, who officials say was previously convicted of animal cruelty back in 2003. They have not yet found him however.