A Scotch Plains resident has been criminally charged with multiple animal cruelty offenses after three pets suffered severe neglect while in his care, including two that died, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo, Plainfield Police Department Director Lisa Burgess, and Scotch Plains Police Department Chief Ted Conley jointly announced Tuesday.
Aiden R. Turso, 19, of the 300 block of Valleyscent Avenue, is charged with two counts of third-degree failure to provide necessary care to an animal, leading to its death; two counts of fourth-degree animal cruelty offenses; and fourth-degree hindering apprehension.
On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, members of the Plainfield Police Department responded to the area of Rock Avenue on a report of a suspicious item dumped on the side of the road and found the deceased body of a severely emaciated pit bull inside a plastic bag, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Patricia Cronin, who is prosecuting the case.
An investigation led by Plainfield Police Department Sgt. Candace Grant and Scotch Plains Police Department Detective Theodore Florio, assisted by Tyler Smith of the Plainfield Area Humane Society, determined that Turso had three pets that had suffered severe neglect – the pit bull, named Cinnamon; a second dog, Jax, which was surrendered to the Humane Society in emaciated condition later in November; and a cat, Buddy, which was euthanized in late December after being taken to a local veterinarian in a comatose state, also emaciated and covered in fleas.
Turso was served the criminal charges against him via summons earlier this month, with an initial appearance scheduled to take place in Union County Superior Court 8:30 a.m. on the morning of Friday, February 19.
“We hope these charges send a clear message to anyone who needs to hear it – this sort of conduct isn’t just wrong, it’s criminal,” acting Prosecutor Ruotolo said.
Convictions on third-degree crimes can be punishable by 3 to 5 years in state prison.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Each police department countywide has an assigned humane law enforcement officer, but any police officer can respond to reports of animal cruelty. If you believe you have witnessed an incident of animal cruelty, contact your local police and relay as many details as you can, including the location, date and time, and description of the people and animals involved.
To view a fact sheet on animal cruelty laws in New Jersey and how they are applied, go online to https://ucnj.org/prosecutor/animal-cruelty/.