An animal cruelty investigation of a New Jersey couple has been opened. The pair said: "This wasn't backyard breeding. Things just went sideways."

There was a time when the mention of the two high-end dog breeders came with a shower of praise and admiration.

The New Jersey couple at the helm of Rocky Ridge Russells kennel could proudly boast of dozens of American Kennel Club winners and a 2009 Westminster Kennel Club best in breed champion.

But neighbours near their farm in rural Stockton, New Jersey, had warned of a far less illustrious operation. And Tuesday, authorities revealed the scope