Western New Jersey

Pair of dog breeders charged after 200 dogs removed from kennel

HUNTERDON COUNTY, N.J. - Their names used to be synonymous with high-end dog breeding - Kennel Club Winners, even a 2009 Westminster Kennel Club best in breed champion.

But now Martin Strozeski, 66, and Marcia Knoster, 70, have a new title: accused.

The pair is facing multiple charges after dozens and dozens of dogs were discovered living in squalor at their rural home in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

Animal welfare officers removed 188 dogs from the home, and the pair surrendered another 30 on their own.

Vets say the dogs had masses and infections, many were pregnant, and either had very little or no medical care at all.

Authorities say a number of dogs were found dead on the 10-acre farm.

Strozeski told the New York Times he and his business partner Knoster fell on hard times at their kennel.

He says it was a "hobby turned bad," blaming the economy, saying their once-booming breeding business had the bottom fall out after the 2008 recession.

Because they couldn't sell the dogs, it created an overflow, he said.

Strozeski added that while he admits things got out of hand, he claims the reports of the dogs' health have been grossly exaggerated, saying the dogs' basic needs were being met, even saying he'd spend 12 hours a day with the animals.

Still, rescuers say that's not all that dogs need - they need love, space and human interaction.

The Hunterdon County prosecutor agreed with rescuers, and charged the pair with multiple counts, including a charge of failing to provide necessary care to 22 dogs, resulting in their death.

The rescued dogs are being cared for, and the hope is eventually they'll all be well enough to be adopted.

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