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Ridgefield Park vet tech facing 71 counts of animal cruelty accepts plea deal

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On Tuesday, Edison Davalos, a vet tech at the Ridgefield Park Animal Hospital in Hackensack, New Jersey pleaded guilty to 11 counts of animal cruelty involving more than two dozen purebred German shepherds kept in overcrowded and filthy conditions reported

Davalos faced 71 counts of animal cruelty. Bergen County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Bergen County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center in Teterboro stepped in to rescue the dogs on May 4. The dogs had been living in crates; many unable to even stand up. Puppies, some only a few weeks old, were crammed into smaller kennels. Many of the dogs lived in crates in the hallways and basement.

Judge Louis Dinice of the Central Municipal Court in Hackensack heard Davalos' plea and fined Davalos $500 for each count plus $30 court costs. He will also have to perform 40 hours of community service.

Before accepting the plea, Judge Dinice asked Davalos if he owned the dogs. Davalos answered some of the dogs belonged to him, but stated he had been keeping other dogs at the animal hospital temporarily for friends who could no longer care for their dogs. He said he had been hoping to find them new homes. Authorities believe he had been breeding dogs.

Eleven of the dogs were returned to their owners. The others were made available for adoption.

Dr. Paul Kim, the owner and veterinarian at the Ridgefield Park Animal Hospital was not charged and signed over the 29 dogs to the SPCA.

A schedule has been set up for Davalos, who is now required to make weekly payments of $75, until the $5,500 fine is paid or face jail.

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