BRICK, NJ — How did 180 animals come to be kept in a Brick Township dwelling in problems so terrible that the house has been condemned?
And how did a individual who seemed so fully commited to animal rescue turn into a person accused of animal cruelty?
Individuals are among the concerns even now becoming sorted out, both equally by law enforcement and by men and women who understood Aimee J. Lonczak and Michele Nycz, the two females who have been billed with animal cruelty and child endangerment in link with the disorders at the Arrowhead Park Travel household.
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Lonczak, 49, and Nycz, 58, have been held at the Ocean County Jail in Toms River considering that they have been arrested Friday night, after the discovery of what witnesses have described as horrific, uninhabitable problems at the household.
They are scheduled for a detention hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday ahead of Top-quality Court docket Decide Dude P. Ryan, mentioned Brian Huntenburg, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Business office. He reported the prosecutor’s workplace will be looking for to have Lonczak and Nycz held right until demo.
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Neither lady has an lawyer specified as of Monday afternoon, he stated.
‘A 1-woman show’
Lonczak is the president and director of Outrageous Rescue Women Inc., and she and Nycz, who owns the Arrowhead Park Push household, have been functioning the rescue from the residence, according to information submitted with the New Jersey Division of Client Affairs and the Florida Division of Corporations.
The rescue, nevertheless, was not a dog mill. Numerous witnesses who served take away the animals from the residence on Friday and Saturday stated nearly all of the 135 canine in the residence have been older people. Read through far more: 180 Pet dogs, Cats Taken out From Brick Property, 2 Arrested: Law enforcement
Interviews with a dozen people, like previous volunteers for the rescue and animal rescuers who offered canines to Outrageous Rescue Females, stated Lonczak received the canine from Southern states and some from New Jersey. The canine coming from states including South Carolina, Ga, Florida, Texas and Tennessee ended up mainly kinds that had been mentioned as set to be euthanized, the former volunteers explained. They were pulled from get rid of shelters and housed with foster volunteers in the South right up until Lonczak could organize for them to be transported to New Jersey.
How lots of of the animals were being really adopted out?
“We really don’t know,” a single former volunteer said, who requested not to be discovered because of assaults that have been directed at any one believed to be connected with Lonczak. “We by no means actually realized how several canines she experienced, how lots of experienced been adopted.”
“We would see Aimee write-up (on Fb) welcoming a new pet, and we’d notify her she had to end getting in pet dogs,” a different stated, “and then really quickly we’d see 10 or 11 posts of canines that had been adopted.”
The former volunteers who spoke with Patch reported they have been below siege from persons on social media who are offended about the neglect and abuse the 135 canine and 45 cats endured in the house.
“Everyone would seem to feel we had to know what was happening, but we did not,” just one of the volunteers said. “Aimee was a one particular-female clearly show.”
Hiding the horrors
By all accounts, Lonczak went to terrific lengths to current an graphic of a dependable animal rescue. She acquired a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable designation from the IRS and was up-to-day on all the essential tax and report filings, not only with the IRS but with New Jersey and in Florida, where Insane Rescue Ladies Inc. is incorporated.
She held adoption activities at Petsmart in Brick and stated pet dogs for adoption on Petfinder. She enlisted foster volunteers to treatment for and socialize the animals, primarily puppies, to get them adopted. She shared photos of out there canines on social media, and — until eventually just lately — compensated for the animals to be neutered or spayed, as element of the contract with adopters.
But previous volunteers who had fostered animals for Crazy Rescue Ladies Inc. claimed there was a further facet to her: one particular who would berate and blame everybody else when issues went erroneous. If an adoption fell by means of, she blamed the foster. If an animal was ill, she brushed it off.
Lonczak did not just berate volunteers she would threaten adopters as very well, in accordance to all those who shared their tales with Patch.
Tracey DeCesare reported Lonczak threatened to go to her mother’s home and consider the Yorkie her mother experienced adopted immediately after a veterinarian identified the Silky mix experienced a collapsed trachea and desired to have almost all of his tooth pulled.
“Aimee did not want my mother to get Fergus,” DeCesare reported, but the volunteer who was fostering him claimed it would be a excellent fit and the pet would be properly-cared for. When he arrived, he had what appeared to be kennel cough — right up until the vet examined him.
Fergus’s illnesses led to $1,500 in vet charges, on best of the $500 adoption fee her mom had compensated, DeCesare mentioned. When they contacted Lonczak about a refund of some of the adoption payment, points went south.
“She threatened my mom ‘I will occur to you with my law firm and the law enforcement and choose the pet dog back,’ “ DeCesare said. “We were being just nicely asking if we could get a minor little bit again on the adoption cost.”
They finally blocked Lonczak on Facebook.
A different adopter, who asked that her identify not be released, stated she adopted two canine from the rescue. The 1st time, Lonczak “was pretty specialist.” There was a meet-and-greet with the canine a take a look at to the adopter’s property the place the pet dog stayed right away, and copies of the dog’s veterinary documents. “Aimee texted me each individual working day for a 7 days to examine in. Our individual vet gave the pet clean invoice. I saw no purple flags!”
This summer time, the adopter explained, was a diverse story.
“Something seemed off. Aimee appeared pressured, was vague about the dog’s origin, the dog’s wellbeing.” The adopter had prepared to just foster the puppy, but Lonczak offered no food items and no veterinary treatment. When the adopter made a decision to preserve the dog, Lonczak charged a comprehensive adoption payment, with the provision that the rescue would shell out for it to be neutered. That in no way happened.
“At this stage in time I have not spoken to Aimee and planned on paying out for any extra vet expert services myself,” the adopter stated.
The previous volunteers claimed Lonczak conducted most of the business of the rescue absent from the Arrowhead Park Generate property. If a foster desired food stuff or blankets, Lonczak would fall them off, or satisfy up with fosters at Petsmart or even the Dunkin parking lot.
“She would provide the dogs to you,” a person said. “They ended up clean, they have been healthy, they would occur appropriate off of transportation.”
“She did not want people to know wherever she lived,” just one volunteer reported. “If you did go to her household, she would be ready for you at the bottom of the driveway, and load the things in and deliver you on your way.
“She in no way enable any person in the household,” yet another claimed. The entrance of the house with the exception of the driveway was nicely cared for – bouquets were planted, very little was in disrepair.
“You had been there just lengthy ample to decide up provides,” the former volunteer said.
The descriptions of the inside of the dwelling have been heartbreaking, they mentioned.
“I have been physically sick and crying for two days,” just one explained.
‘It smelled like Hell’
People today who worked to rescue the animals from the Arrowhead Park Generate property said the scene within defied description.
In the living space, the television was on and tuned to “Friends.” There were being shots on the walls — walls that were being splattered with feces.
“I just can’t even set into terms how terrible it was,” claimed Dave Gallo, a volunteer who helped pull cages out on Saturday early morning. “The Tv set was playing like absolutely nothing was taking place, but there was crap on the partitions, crap on the ceiling. Each and every area was additional of the exact.”
“Every animal we brought out was included in their possess feces,” explained Maria Grandi, a further volunteer. “Some ended up trapped to their crates.”
Just about every space reeked of urine and feces, and Grandi said they experienced to be hosed off — in their hazmat satisfies — soon after just about every trip into the dwelling.
Nicole Wowchuck reported the only bed room with a mattress was the learn bed room, “but it was coated with crates and feces. That have to have been the last place they used” to property animals.
“There was no way you could sit on that bed or even breathe,” she mentioned. “My eyes ended up burning.” That bedroom had a Television set on as well.
“We sat there listening to ‘Friends’ though we were being having the animals out,” she reported. “It was definitely weird.”
The basement was pitch black besides for a minor light-weight coming in via the very small windows at the prime. It way too was loaded with crates, which were being ziptied jointly, Wowchuck stated.
Gallo said he and his wife experienced fostered a pet for Lonczak a couple of a long time ago. As he was assisting to get rid of animals on Saturday, he noticed a photograph on the wall — and understood it was the similar female they had fostered for.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he claimed.
“People described it as smelling like death,” Gallo said. “It smelled like Hell.”
Study the account of a volunteer from the Linked Humane Societies Popcorn Park Zoo, which also aided clear away animals: ‘Nightmare’: Popcorn Park Officer Shares Hoarder House Encounter
There was a large SUV — a Chevy Suburban or a GMC Yukon — in the driveway where it appeared Lonczak and her 16-12 months-outdated child and Nycz may well have been residing. Legislation enforcement has not confirmed that detail, but did say they had been living at the home, which Nycz owns.
Authorities have not unveiled information on in which Lonczak’s baby has been put because of privateness protections for minors.
The animals are getting cared for at the Ocean County Animal Shelter’s 3 facilities. Examine more: Canines, Cats From Brick ‘Puppy Mill’ Beneath Ocean County’s Treatment
A board no a single knew existed
Lonczak didn’t notify any of the former volunteers what she was accomplishing substantially of the time, they claimed. When word of the hoarding situation commenced flying on social media, a number of of the former volunteers acquired a shock: Lonczak experienced named them as “board members” of Crazy Rescue Females Inc.
“We had no idea she had carried out that,” the previous volunteers said. “We never experienced any board conferences, not even Zoom meetings.”
One particular mentioned Lonczak threw out the notion in a group chat on Facebook, even jokingly inquiring what titles they required. No 1 knew she was severe, they reported, till the social media onslaught started because a doc naming all the “officers” of the rescue experienced been posted on the web.
“She didn’t even use my right name,” a person claimed immediately after looking at the document. “We in no way signed any paperwork” agreeing to serve as officers.
The Interior Earnings Service, alongside with Florida and New Jersey, demands charitable nonprofit organizations to record the names of board associates. The IRS at just one time needed signatures of the officers of 501(c)(3)s. Florida and New Jersey have to have a “local agent” to be designated to signify the group. Lonczak was the designated regional agent in equally states.
The former volunteers said they experienced resigned and walked absent from the rescue in the last two years and hadn’t been related with it a number of months.
“I sent her a published resignation,” one explained. The IRS requires updates when officers transform, but Lonczak experienced not current the documents to mirror any of the departures.
“I really don’t comprehend how which is legal,” one of the former volunteers stated.
Lonczak, on her particular Fb website page and on the rescue’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, had posted looking for fosters on various situations in the latest months. In late May perhaps, she posted on Instagram that the rescue was total and not taking any extra puppies.
“Unfortunately so several shelters are in a vital point out and code pink,” the article said. “If you’d like to foster and help preserve a existence, remember to ship us a message. We would enjoy to have your enable. WE Require YOUR Aid TO Assistance THE INNOCENTS.”
6 months later, she was welcoming a litter of puppies into the rescue whilst continue to begging for people to foster.
It is unclear if any other volunteers experienced joined to assist with the care of the animals.
The previous volunteers stated they experienced no involvement in any of the economic elements of the rescue. Adoption service fees have been paid out instantly to the rescue, and expenditures were being paid by Lonczak.
Nuts Rescue Women Inc. took in much more than $19,600 in 2021, and experienced bills of $25,278 in accordance to the report submitted with New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs. But the report does not go into detail on the breakdown of the expenses. The revenues involved about $8,900 in donations, and more than $10,000 in adoption costs, in accordance to the history.
The rescue also owes about $10,000 to a veterinary clinic in South Carolina, the place animals that experienced been picked up — some of them “street dogs,” other individuals pulled from shelters — acquired care right before coming to New Jersey.
Lonczak experienced posted on Facebook about a house she was preparing to lease with more room, but none of those people who spoke with Patch experienced any plan wherever the residence was found. She was requesting donations to get the house set up for the rescue.
Manuela Schafer, a rescuer from South Carolina, contacted Patch seeking to find out if a single of the pet dogs she had sent to Lonczak was among individuals pulled from the household on Friday or if it had been adopted.
She stated the discussions about animals needing to be pulled from get rid of shelters and rescued from the streets happened by Facebook groups, and Lonczak did not pay out for the animals.
“No monies exchanged hands,” Schafer mentioned. She regretted getting handed off the puppies she had sent north, nonetheless.
“Ultimately rescues require to be inspected. Unfortunately for some rescues, rescuing puppies keeps their mild on,” she stated.
Animal passion long gone wrong?
Lonczak fashioned Crazy Rescue Ladies Inc. in 2015, according to her Fb webpage. Its major address is Cooper City, Florida, where she lived for several several years. By 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Lonczak was dwelling in New Jersey, though it is not distinct when she moved north.
Darcy Butkus, who operates the private investigation company Inspector Bark, has been concentrating on fraud animal rescues for 15 several years. She stated she experienced recognised Lonczak for quite a few yrs while Lonczak lived in Florida.
“Her daughters ended up in elementary college,” Butkus said. Lonczak appeared to be executing factors the appropriate way — filing paperwork with the suitable authorities, generating sure animals been given their shots, positioning them in good households. She would deliver strategies to Butkus about animal rescues that wanted to be investigated.
Butkus reported rip-off animal rescues are popular — she estimates about 80 p.c of the types she’s seen have been cons in some fashion — and referred to as South Florida the hub of them. Butkus, who is licensed as a non-public investigator in Ga and Florida, mentioned she thinks Lonczak sent the suggestions to continue to keep Butkus from investigating Nuts Rescue Females.
“Aimee had me fooled,” Butkus explained, introducing she experienced preference text for her, despatched by way of text concept that Lonczak possible has not seen.
Lonczak experienced other individuals fooled much too. She essential background checks on adopters, from examining with veterinarians and making sure the animals have been vaccinated to necessitating house inspections, previous volunteers stated.
“If you are remaining requested to do residence inspections for adopters, why would you consider the canines are not becoming cared for” inside the rescue, a single volunteer stated.
Kathy Terry, a Florida girl who was connected with the rescue but walked absent a lot more than 5 yrs in the past, claimed Lonczak is “the polar opposite” of the human being she was when Terry very first realized her.
“Aimee would go the length to assistance a puppy in distress. I am shocked at how totally she has turned into that which she so despised,” Terry wrote in a community Fb post. “Not much shocks me any longer but this has still left me surprised. … I am furious with how she has perverted the pretty concept of rescue.”
“Aimee built it appear like she genuinely, really cared about the animals,” just one of the former volunteers reported. “She place on an extraordinary show and she had so quite a few folks bamboozled.”
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