🔴 The Chevy Silverado was found abandoned in the back of a mall

🔴 Animals both dead and alive were found in the cab and bed of the pickup

🔴 Most of the surviving animals have been placed in shelters

NEWTON — Nearly 40 cats and dogs plus dozens of carcasses were found in a pickup parked in the back of a shopping center Monday afternoon.

State Police Lt. Lawrence Peele said police found an abandoned Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck with 25 cats and dogs in the cab and another 10 in three crates in the bed.

Trash bags with the remains of 30 cats and dogs were also found in the bed of the truck parked in the back of the Marshalls store at the Sussex County Mall on Route 206.

Lynn Leonard, 53, of Bloxom, Virginia, the driver of the truck, was arrested on animal cruelty charges. She was released pending a court date.

The animals were removed from the scene by 11th Hour Animal Rescue, Blairstown Animal Hospital, Newton Animal Hospital, and the Byram Animal Rescue Kindness Squad (BARKS).

Peele would not disclose why Leonard had the animals or where she was headed.

Animals found behind a shopping center in Hampton
Animals found behind a shopping center in Hampton (BARKS)

Darlene O'Connell, president of the BARKS, whose shelter is located in the same shopping center, told New Jersey 101.5 the animals were mostly dog.

"I was able to help with one of the dogs and two of the cats and one of the cats had three kittens that were in very bad condition, very dehydrated and very hungry. My staff and I fed them as soon as we got them back. We went back at midnight and fed them again. And from what I hear, they were just bathed and so far, so good."

Most of the animals have been placed with shelters and will eventually need homes, according to O'Connell.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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