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March 10, 2022

Woman with 160 dogs in her Burlington County home pleads guilty to animal cruelty

Donna Roberts, 68, caused six of the animals to die by failing to provide adequate care, prosecutors said

Investigations Animal Cruelty
Shamong Animal Cruelty Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Donna Roberts, 68, has pleaded guilty to a single charge of animal after authorities discovered 160 dogs and 44 frozen carcasses being kept in unsanitary conditions in her home in Shamong, Burlington County.

A Shamong woman who was found to have over a hundred dogs living in filthy conditions at her home pleaded guilty last month to third-degree animal cruelty, Burlington County prosecutors announced on Wednesday.

Donna Roberts, 68, had 44 dog carcasses in plastic bags stored in freezers and 160 living dogs around her property. Four of the dogs were in critical condition and required emergency veterinary treatment and six eventually died, investigators said.

Roberts was charged in November 2018 after New Jersey State Police conducted a search of her home on the 500 block of Oakshade Rd. Investigators obtained a search warrant after receiving complaints from neighbors about the property's condition, PennLive reported.

The smell of animal feces and urine in the home caused several investigators to experience dizziness and nausea.

The dogs that remained were evaluated and treated at the scene and most of them were ultimately placed for adoption.

Under her plea agreement, Roberts must serve 90 days in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly. She will also have to complete 30 days of community service and serve five years of probation. During that time, she will not be permitted to own, raise or care for any animals.

The agreement still needs to be formally approved by the court. Roberts will officially be sentenced at a hearing scheduled for May 13 before Superior Court Judge John J. Burke III.

In the aftermath of the search, Roberts was originally indicted on eight charges of animal cruelty in December 2019. Officers raided her home again days after the indictment and seized more dogs.

A fire destroyed several empty kennels on Roberts' property last March. Authorities say no animals were there at the time.