Dog owners are scheduled to be back in Naples Town Court Sept. 26 on charges involving 85 dogs seized by the Ontario County Humane Society

NAPLES — The Naples pair arrested in late July on multiple counts of animal cruelty pleaded not guilty in Naples Town Court Thursday. The accused, Richard A. Justice, 65, and Jane W. Justice, 70, are scheduled to be back in town court on Sept. 26 on the case involving the seizure of 85 dogs from their Lawyer Road home.

Town Justice Doug Grove said Thursday’s appearance was a preliminary hearing. Richard and Jane each had an attorney representing them.

Ontario County Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said the case should be ready for trial on that September date.

Town Court was packed to capacity of 49 people, with some people having to wait outside on the street to learn the outcome. The Justices were whisked away by their attorneys into the seclusion of the adjoining village/town offices as people filed out onto Main Street after the court appearance.

Ontario County Humane Society Shelter Manager Dianne Faas said she was not surprised with the delay. She said discussions are in the works to allow the Humane Society to begin placing the 85 dogs in foster homes. But the dogs can not be put up for adoption until the case is settled, she said.

Richard and Jane Justice were arrested after the Humane Society found 73 dogs at the couple’s residence on Lawyer Road in Naples. The pair were initially charged with 73 counts of cruelty to an animal, as well as 73 counts of failure to provide food and water to an impounded animal. The Humane Society later seized more dogs during its follow-up investigation, bringing the number of dogs rescued in the case to 85.

The Naples Code Enforcement Office deemed the residence unsafe and uninhabitable. The Ontario County Office of Emergency Management needed Tyvek suits and breathing equipment to help with the rescue due to the unsanitary conditions found in the house.

The Humane Society launched a fundraising campaign to help it meet the costs of caring for the dogs. Donations reached $70,532 on Wednesday, with a goal of raising $125,000.

The dogs are all Cairn and Yorkshire terriers ranging from 4 months to 6 years old.

Donna Years, an area resident who has been following the case, said she wished the Humane Society could get full custody of the dogs before the case is settled. “There are so many who want to adopt them,” she said.

Faas said the shelter is working hard to bring all the dogs into full healthy condition and provide them with the treatment and care needed. The shelter is overflowing with donations and people who want to help. She urged people to call the shelter to volunteer and donate to the fundraising campaign.