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Higganum man facing 20 counts of animal cruelty charges

The woman who turned him in spoke with FOX61.

HADDAM, Conn. — A Higganum man is facing 20 counts of animal cruelty due to what some said is a puppy mill he's been operating at his house. On Tuesday, the woman who turned him in spoke with FOX61.

32-year-old Dean Moore and his family hired pet sitter Naja Muller to care for their dogs while away for six weeks beginning in April.  

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According to an arrest warrant, it was Moore's neglect that put up to 30 German shepherds in peril.

"I agreed to two visits a day, one in the morning, one in the late afternoon or evening," Muller said of her pet sitting arrangement.

But, she was shocked to learn that the 19 German Shepard puppies she would care for were being forced to live outside, in sub-freezing early spring temperatures.

"They can't regulate their body temperature at that young of an age," Muller said. "I've worked with dogs for a long time and I know that's not a sustainable situation for puppies."

But, there were more challenges, including the day she discovered two dead puppies and another that was seriously injured.

"One of the mothers had unfortunately killed her own puppies and that was due to the fact that she was put into a very high-stress situation," Muller said.

She was referring to the poor living conditions. So, she called the owner, Moore, to alert him to the two dead and one injured dog.

"I was instructed to not take that puppy, that injured puppy, to the vet because he didn't wanna pay for it because he already lost money on the two dead puppies," said Muller.

According to the arrest Muller, Moore told her just let nature take its course.

The injured puppy was eventually euthanized at a local vet at the instruction of Moore, according to the arrest warrant.

It was at that time Muller decided she was done caring for Moore's dogs. That, combined with other factors, forced the placement of the remaining dogs in foster care. And the caregiver noticed many of the puppies were sick. The state animal control officer says that was likely a result of the owner not changing out the mulch and wood chips in the pen some of the dogs were housed in. It likely opened the door to parasites, the ACO said.

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"Giardia and coccidia are both incredibly contagious and they're spread through the ground," said Robin Zilla-Cannamela, the Founder and President of Desmond's Army animal advocates.

Six of the original group of 19 puppies died. The state animal control officer's investigation resulted in Dean Moore being charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty.

RELATED: 16 pets seized in Torrington animal cruelty investigation

"And that's typical of a puppy mill owner," said Zilla-Cannamela of Moore's alleged lack of care. They are more concerned about the money than the lives of these animals."

Moore is due in Middletown Superior Court to face these charges on June 6, which is three days after he's in court for an unrelated disorderly conduct charge, which dates back to March.

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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