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Charges dropped against woman who took in baby squirrels

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |   Feb. 12, 2016 at 11:22 AM

HOWELL, N.J., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A New Jersey judge dismissed charges against a woman facing up to $500 in fines for taking care of two abandoned baby squirrels.

Municipal Court Judge James Newman dismissed charges Wednesday against Howell resident Maria Vaccarella, saying the summons she was issued did not match the statute she was accused of violating.

Vaccarella had been charged in November with illegally being in possession of wildlife, but Newman said Wednesday Vaccarella had been charged under a statute that sets the penalties for illegal animal possession rather than possession of wildlife.

"The summons as written does not charge an offense and therefore the court will dismiss," Newman said.

Vaccarella, who took care of the baby squirrels for four months before they were seized by authorities, said she was unaware of the rules regarding wildlife rehabilitation when she took in the animals, but that wouldn't stop her from repeating her actions.

"I would definitely save a life again," she told NJ.com. "A life is a life."

"Maybe I'll get a permit for rehabilitating animals,"  Vaccarella said.

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