One of the two African Boerbels seized by the town after the owners allegedly violated a court order died on Wednesday.
According to Susan Kolb, one of the dogs, Jumba, died of lymphoma Wednesday at 11 a.m. The dog had lost 40 pounds in one month, Kolb said.
The Oak Ridge couple is scheduled to appear in Morris County Superior Court on Feb. 7 on a motion to dismiss the charges against them, Susan Kolb said.
The dogs were seized in October 2011 after the Kolbs allegedly violated a state order by walking the dogs without muzzles. Muzzles were required to be worn by the dogs after the animals allegedly knocked over a woman holding a baby and bit two people in Jersey City, where the Kolbs lived, in 2008 and 2009.
The Kolbs soon thereafter moved to Jefferson and were required to follow state-mandated rules, including walking the dogs with muzzles at all times. The Kolbs are now each facing charges of contempt of court for allegedly walking the dogs, Imani and Jumba, wihout muzzles and could face up to 18 months in prison.
In October, the Kolbs made a deal with Prosecutor James LaSala to postpone the forfeiture case and possible euthanasia of the animals if they paid the $12,000 it cost for Jefferson Township to house the dogs after they were seized. The forfeiture case was to be put on hold while the Kolbs settled their criminal matters.
The dogs were being held at a facility in Andover, but in December, after the couple made their first payment for the township housing the dogs previously, the facility closed for financial reasons.
More than 4,000 people have signed the online petition, "Send Jumba and Imani Home to Die."