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Animal Cruelty Suspect Makes First Court Appearance

Nat Sladkin appears in Brick municipal court

One of the two operators of the Brick Township pet shop made an appearance in municipal court Thursday night.

Nathan "Nat" Sladkin, a 71-year-old Farmingdale resident who managed the Puppies Galore pet store on Hooper Avenue, appeared before Judge Robert Lepore for an arraignment hearing.

Sladkin is facing four counts of cruelty to animals filed by investigators with the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The owner of the store, Old Bridge resident Maria De Santis, 57, is facing 38 counts of animal cruelty.

Dressed in a black jacket, khaki pants and a red shirt, Sladkin tilted his head to the side and quietly listened to Lepore read the potential penalties for each charge – up to six months in the county jail and a fine of $1,000, plus various court fees. He could also face between one and three years of probation.

After the charges were read, Sladkin briskly walked out of the court room, then refused to comment on the case to a reporter, saying, "no comment."

De Santis was also scheduled to appear in court Thursday, but her appearance was adjourned after she had retained an attorney, court staff told Brick Patch.

Sladkin told a court officer he was planning on hiring an attorney as he walked out of the .

The cruelty charges against Sladkin and De Santis arose after authorities removed 39 puppies from the store they operated. Of the 39, veterinarians identified 26 as being ill, including four who were severely ill and were taken to a veterinary trauma center.

Officials with the SPCA said earlier this week that the charges were filed for failure to provide necessary sustenance in the form of veterinary care for the puppies.

Sladkin's legal troubles date back decades. According to a 1995 article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sladkin and his wife were ordered to pay $17,500 in fines stemming from his operation of a pet store on Arnold Avenue in Point Pleasant Beach. That store, Pet Depot, is now closed.

A hearing on the status on the Brick store is set for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., township officials confirmed this week.

The puppies that were removed from the store are being held at animal shelters while the case is being resolved.

Can't shut me up April 22, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Too many people I know including myself has been turned away from The Jersey Shore Animal Center. All of us were deemed "unfit". Me, because my dog was not neutered and because I used Petco for my shots. They were also abusive to me vet too. Those people shouldn't be in charge of animals. Lunitic fanatics to put it mildly. Fuzzy has been there since 10/1/11 in a 10x8 cage. 50+ applications, all of us unfit. Fuzzy still sits in this prison cell. These shelters are the reason why people go to pet store and breeders. Maybe someone should be picketing them. Their all about the profits NOT the animals. Even sadder is all the seized puppies from Puppy's Galore went there.
shoredoglover April 22, 2012 at 01:05 AM
If there is any shred of truth that Jersey Shore is allowing animals to linger in the shelter indefinitely because the facility is unnecessarily rejecting qualified applicants, then perhaps the Town Council/Mayor's office should request to review the records of their application screening process. The town does pay them a fee for their services, so perhaps it is time to ask for some transparency. I am sure they do a wonderful job caring for the animals and of course, animals must be matched carefully with an adopter, however, there are quite a few of these stories surfacing so one has to wonder if they are being overly critical of would be adopters.
shoredoglover April 22, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Of course, one's displeasure with how the Jersey Shore Animal Center handles its application process is still not a good reason to buy an animal from a pet store/puppy miller.
Can't shut me up April 22, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I've already spoke with the mayors office. The confirmed there have been a ton of complaints about Jersey Shore. But since they are non-profit (yea right) and not budgeted by the Brick taxpayers there is nothing they can do. Jersey Shore does get paid by Brick per job they perform. Puppies don't grown on trees shoredoglover. AGAIN shelters like this is what prompts people to go to stores. And Fuzzy still sits in a 10 X 8 prison cell. Imprisoned since 10/1/2011.
lisa fenimore April 23, 2012 at 04:53 PM
for smartzonemary yes i worked for them and toke care of the animals and i dont no the other person but i knew sladkin very well and i didnt blame anyone for this but there is alot of customers that are not heard over the years that have gotten puppies from them at petdepot and you dont hear the good of that shelters are not always better cause you dont no waht your getting there so you can laugh all you want i know how he is and i was not in the brick store i worked for him a long time but sometime people dont listen when you tell them things ..did you no him did you get a puppy from him?

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