HACKENSACK, N.J. — An Emerson pet shop that lost its license will remain open with the oversight of an independent third-party monitor, a judge in Hackensack ruled on Friday.
Borough officials have had the ability to close Vincent LoSacco's Just Pups store themselves but haven't done so, Superior Court Judge Lisa Perez Friscia said in denying borough officials' request for a temporary injunction.
“Emerson as a borough has the ability to self-govern and to take steps and measures on its own,” Perez Friscia said. “It has not done that in the last four months.
"They have not slated a court hearing, sought a suspension, shut down the business, or taken measures to do so.”
Mayor Lou Lamatina said that will change next week
"The judge made it clear that it is not a ministerial act but rather the council has the right and in fact obligation to deliberate on a license request," Mayor Lou Lamatina told Daily Voice.
"There will be a hearing on Tuesday at the council meeting on whether or not to grant him a license under state statute," he said.
Friscia noted that three agencies have inspected the Emerson shop and not found violations – the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Office of the Attorney General, and the local health department.
Although borough officials may or could have issued summonses of their own, none were produced in court, she said.
Lamatina said that the borough issued six summonses for health code violations on June 9 that will be heard in Municipal Court this coming Thursday.
LoSacco kept the Kinderkamack Road store open after his license expired on June 30.
On Wednesday, he sued the borough, demanding a judge order its clerk to issue a pet shop license.
In response, Emerson officials sought a temporary injunction to close Just Pups.
Borough Attorney John Stone argued that a pattern of problems with LoSacco’s other shops should be considered, as well as the fact that dogs are moved among the facilities.
“Our claim is that they have to issue us a pet shop license because we filled out a complete application and gave them all the documentation they need," LoSacco responded. “They’re just not issuing it because of political expediency or pressure from people.”
An independent monitor who can work for a short period of time must now be found. The monitor will work until there’s a settling of differences between LoSacco and the borough.
Stone and Anthony Arturi, LoSacco’s attorney, will confer on the process.
A total of 134 charges of animal cruelty filed by the Bergen County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) are still pending against LoSacco and his brother, Leonard, for an incident at a since-closed shop in Paramus.
LoSacco surrendered his license there after Paramus police found 67 dogs crated overnight in a van outside the shop.
He already was facing 267 animal cruelty charges filed against him in March by the New Jersey SPCA after three dead dogs were recovered from a freezer of his East Brunswick store.
LoSacco cleared out the Paramus location and moved the remaining dogs there to Emerson -- where he offered them for sale at half price -- and into the hands of a local animal rescue organization.