Doris Lin, Esq., Vaccarella’s pro-bono defense counsel, argued that the statute that her client was charged under does not apply to rescuing abandoned baby squirrels, but rather to the possession of exotic pets and animals. Judge James M. Newman, the Presiding Judge of Monmouth County Municipal Courts, agreed and dismissed the charges.
Vaccarella came to the aid of a squirrel that had fallen out of a tree last year and then gave birth to two infants. Vaccarella left the babies outdoors in cage for a day and then took them in when the mother failed to return. She named the baby squirrels George and Lola and bottle nursed them for four months after a registered wildlife rehabilitators refused to take them, she said.
Vaccarella shared photos and videos of the growing a squirrels on her facebook feed, which led to a visit from Fish and Wildlife officials who took the babies and sent her a summons that indicated a $500 fine. During her first appearance in Freehold Township Municipal Court, the Judge told Vacarells that the fine could be $1000 and a six month jail sentence was possible.
Vaccarella rejected a plea deal with no fine and $35 in Court costs last month.