DUMONT, N.J. -- A judge in Hackensack fined an animal rescue operator $1,000 and banned her from owning dogs for three years under a plea bargain stemming from the discovery of two dead dogs and a half-dozen emaciated canines at her Dumont home.
Central Municipal Court Judge Louis Dinice threatened to send Gabrielle Ganter to jail for 60 days if she doesn't meet her payment schedule. He also called it "ridiculous" that her husband will be allowed to own dogs under Ganter's deal with prosecutors.
Ganter, who'd chopped her hair months ago before surrendering to authorities, wore sunglasses while she awaited her turn in court, then retreated to the ladies room, where she donned a leopard-print hoodie.
A week ago, she showed up for court hours after a scheduled trial was to begin. Both sides later told Daily Voice that they were trying to reach a plea deal.
Ganter pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to provide necessary care of animals -- specifically, food. Prosecutors dropped the remaining charges in return.
Prosecutors said they had to be sure that animal control officers were OK with the arrangement.
Bergen County SPCA investigators in June filed 26 charges of animal cruelty and neglect following an investigation that included necropsies.
Police alerted SPCA investigators after finding the dead animals in plastic garbage bags in the house and the live dogs — as well as a starved cat — chained in the yard without proper shelter.
Ganter — whose attorney said she is pregnant — later turned herself in to Belleville police on an outstanding arrest warrant in early July.
The live dogs and cat have continued to be held at the Bergen County Animal Shelter pending the closure of the case, after which authorities said there could be adoptions.
The judge said Ganter could write to the shelter to suggest placements for two pets who are considered "hard to adopt."
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