PATERSON, N.J. — A New Jersey animal shelter says they found 12 dogs neglected and caged inside an empty Paterson home.

Paterson Animal Control Officer John DeCando says that the dogs were found in a home when a neighbor contacted authorities after hearing the dogs bark. DeCando tells News 12 the dogs were barking as a cry for help.

Officials say all 12 of the dogs were severely malnourished, had matted fur and did not have any food or water.

The Ramapo Bergan Animal Refuge has taken in the animals and will clean and treat them.

City officials say they are working to identify the owner of the Paterson home and will seek to file animal cruelty charges.

Information from: News 12,