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Woman Facing 100s of Animal Cruelty Charges Was a Woodbridge Animal Control Officer

Mercedes Lopez of Howell was arrested Sunday on charges of neglecting hundreds of animals on her Howell property.


A woman charged with hundreds of counts of animal cruelty in Howell Township was once an animal control officer in Woodbridge.

Mercedes Lopez, 57, was arrested Sunday at her Howell home after tips to the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MCSPCA) led officials to discover neglected and dead animals all over her property.

Chief Victor “Buddy” Amato of the MCSPCA confirmed that Lopez had once worked as a Woodbridge animal control officer before she was terminated from the job. He said she had also been employed in neighboring Perth Amboy in a similar capacity, but lost that position as well.

Lopez is also involved with Happy Homes Animal Shelter, a non-profit Perth Amboy-based animal welfare group. A woman who answered the phone there said she expected Lopez in "shortly," but later, a man who answered said Lopez "doesn't work here anymore."

Lopez was involved in a dog euthanasia incident in Woodbridge that caused an investigation by the SPCA. In May, 2008, a German Shepherd who had bitten a Woodbridge resident was euthanized because the dog "could not be controlled."

A Woodbridge Township press release said that after the investigation, Lopez, who had gone out on the call, had been exonerated from any wrongdoing. The press release said the dog owner had agreed to having the dog put down after admitting he couldn't control the animal.

In March, 2009, Vincent Garibaldi, pleading on behalf of the owner of the euthanized dog, went to a Woodbridge Council meeting, asking that the case against Lopez and the handling of the German Shepherd be reopened.

He said that Lopez had violated New Jersey statutes by telling the dog's owner he had three choices after the dog bit a neighbor: that the owner could "construct a six foot fence around the property in 48 hours, pay a $6,000.00 fine or euthanize the dog."

Sometime after that discussion, Lopez lost her job as an animal control officer in Woodbridge. 

In August, 2012, Lopez's name appeared on a list of animal control officials whose licenses had been revoked and were ineligible to work in that job again.

More than 200 neglected animals were found in Lopez's Howell home and on the property, according to a News12NJ report. The menagerie included dogs, cats, rabbits, pigeons, parrots and a raccoon. 

Amato said Lopez faces a six month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine for each charge.

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TRIXIEBOROXIE March 13, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Yes, the township Woodbridge and ASPCA did defend her, because they hired her and when you hire someone to represent your company you hope they are doing things in a responsbile manner, not using their job title to bully and harrass and take advantage of people, hopefully all that have defended her in the past feel like real ASSES for not believing the honset people that tried to bring this horrible person to there attention, next time they hire people to care for the public they better check their background records.
unknownauthor March 13, 2013 at 08:19 PM
@NotInKansasAnymore. Without feeding the mob, let me say if anyone has a reason to dislike Mercedes, I do. In fact, I had her shutdown a PetSmart awhile back. That said, I can, like Al, recall a time when I knew her more for the good she did, at least for the cats I was concerned about, than the bad we read about today. As for saying anything against Marge Petro, I didn't. It was you that connected her to my non name specific statement. Despite what anyone may think or say to the contrary, I have always respected the good works Marge and all the volunteers do at the shelter!
Nancy Circle March 14, 2013 at 01:55 AM
So lopez's famous last words were "i am somewhat there for the animals" or "i am above the law, i will never get caught" what a piece of shit. People did try stopping her, but the fact that she is a compulsive liar and great at manipulating people, whether it be law enforcement or the general population doesnt help.
Nicole Hoagland DiMaggio March 14, 2013 at 07:13 PM
In the Nj.com article it stated there were so many dead cats stuffed in plastic grocery bags there were too many to even count. If there were dead wild animals scattered in the woods they probably died from a disease they picked up on her filthy property.
macska March 31, 2013 at 05:57 PM
disgusting piece of trash. i work in the animal field and i've seen it all... she's probably burnt out and didn't know how to do anything else in life so the animals suffered for it. why was she never reported? or did it fall on deaf ears? may she rot in hell.

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