Great Danes got minimal care at New Hampshire mansion of horrors

By on June 23, 2017 with 20 Comments

The rescue of 84 Great Danes from a 15,000-square-foot mansion in a resort community in central New Hampshire was as surprising as it was dramatic. The juxtaposition of a pricey neighborhood and a huge house packed with animals living in filth and squalor reminds us that there are hard-hearted and troubled people everywhere – people who lose control and fall short when it comes to their animal care responsibilities. Responders did not just find feces on the floor and on the wires cages; the walls were splattered with it. Despite the dogs’ size and strength, the toxic atmosphere produced infections, open sores and cuts, and an array of other health crises.

Now, these dogs are in our hands even as the alleged perpetrator running the dog-selling operation from her home has vowed to fight the charges. We don’t know how long the court proceedings will take, but they could drag on for the rest of the year and into 2018. As a consequence, the cost of care for these animals may run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as we hold and care for them in an emergency shelter. Because she refuses to surrender them, we can’t yet send them to placement partners or foster care.

Yesterday, we released a video that captures more details of how the raid occurred and the environment in which the dogs lived. We hate what happened to these dogs, but we are not shrinking from our duty and our desire to turn their lives around.

But with thousands of substandard and inhumane commercial breeding operations churning out puppies for the pet trade, it’s clear that we cannot rescue our way out of the puppy mill problem. We must convince people to make better, more informed choices when they get a dog, or any animal for that matter, and that’s why we are shouting from the rooftops about the wayward ways of the mills. The best alternative when you’re in the market for a dog is to adopt from a shelter or rescue group. If you go to a breeder, make sure it’s a humane-minded one, and that you make the effort to see the parents of the offspring.

We must also enact stronger state and federal policies to prevent ongoing mistreatment of animals in commercial breeding operations. The federal Animal Welfare Act regulations for large-scale dog breeding operations are more akin to survival standards than animal welfare rules. And as this nightmare of a situation at the mansion demonstrates, New Hampshire’s laws are in need of a massive overhaul.

This breeder was not federally licensed, and may not have been covered under New Hampshire law, which requires licensure and inspection only for breeders selling 50 individual puppies or 10 litters in a year—a threshold that allows many commercial breeders to escape any oversight or regulation. What’s more, even when regulated, the animal welfare standards are not strong enough and do not provide enough safety for dogs.

New Hampshire also needs a serious approach for dealing with the enormous costs associated with caring for mass animal rescues like the one we encountered. The HSUS is absorbing costs to rehabilitate and care for the Great Danes, in part as a service to the town of Wolfeboro. But The HSUS and its supporters should not have to bear these costs. Twenty other states have found solutions to this problem, ensuring that private humane organizations and taxpayers are not stuck with the bill, while still protecting the rights of defendants. The New Hampshire legislature must work to pass a comprehensive cost of animal care law that would place the cost to care for animals seized in a cruelty investigation on the shoulders of the person responsible for the crisis.

We are calling on New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, whose track record for animal welfare has been strong in his first year, to work up a new legal framework to require stronger breeding standards, to cover more large-scale breeders, and to place the burden of costs on these individuals when the animal care situations they create spiral out of control.

You can call Gov. Sununu and ask him to take this action in light of this case. The only reminder you’ll need in order to make that call comes in the form of this short video, which shows what’s at stake for animals.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Janet says:

    Why shouldn’t the So called breeder be responsible for the rescue cost?! If they cared for these dogs properly this would not be happeming…I realize you will have to wait for the case two be tried but ultimately you should all get reimbursed. And of course these breeders should have to do jail time and never be able to to own animals again.

  2. Colleen says:

    Every state must be held accountable to make this a law, immediately, and “If you notice something neighbors and friends–say something”!! These awful people need to pay for this problem they create and then go to jail automatically.This can’t go on like the HS states. We r all accountable not just monetary, but helping out the HS in all ways. Hopefully this makes sense. The only problem is there r people who treat their children the same way, but they go to jail!! They have to pay a bail and/or community duty.

    • Kim Toner says:

      I agree with you – I have been involved with animal welfare since the 70’s. Until animal welfare laws are changed – this unacceptable state of affairs will continue.

  3. bill voeltz says:

    you people need to grow a heart

  4. Robert Hughes says:

    This video should be sent to every state legislator in New Hampshire. The woman responsible for this inhumane treatment of innocent animals has the nerve to fight the charges. The video evidence is more than enough to put her in jail for a long time if that were possible. Your videos depicting the horrors of puppy mills, dog fighting, cock fighting and other heinous treatment of innocent animals should be emailed to all network and cable news channels each and every time you uncover the vile activities. They should also be sent to the governor and all legislators in whatever state the atrocities are committed. One state that comes to mind is Iowa where one legislator in particular (you know who I mean) opposes anything and everything having to do with animal welfare whether it be domestic, farm or wild.

    • Kim Toner says:

      Robert – if you saw milk industry factory farms first hand – you would never drink milk again. Or viewed a 3 year old wasted used up skeletal milk cow on her way to the stock yards.

      It’s all about the money. The taxes. The wages. The fertilizer sales. The equipment sales. Iowa resists humane legislation because they fear it will negatively impact the beef, pork, milk and chicken factory farms income and associated support industries.

      Including Iowa puppy farms laws.

      Follow the money.

  5. Sharon Johnson says:

    I would like to be contacted when available for adoption. Thank you for all you do.

  6. Kim Chaffee says:

    To think this can and does happen in this country today is sickening.
    One would think in a society were you have to be careful what you do let alone what you say, that there would be stricter rules and regulations around these beautiful animals. It is time New Hampshire tightened it’s regulations to prevent this kind of sick behavior.
    To think these babies are now held as evidence because she won’t give them up is heartbreaking. Their lives are short enough without wasting time waiting for a trial. We all know how long it can drag on in our court system. They derseve their freedom now, they have suffered enough.
    Thank you for having a voice for those that don’t.
    Let’s hope this horrible case changes laws and no other beautiful creatures have to suffer like this again.

  7. Kim Fenton says:

    I can’t believe this article would in good conscience even suggest getting a dog from a breeder. Breeders, no matter how reputable, are a big part of the reason why so many animals are waiting in shelters for a loving home. And EVERY YEAR MILLIONS of those animals never make it out alive!

    • Kim Toner says:

      This is NOT a breeder. This is a puppymill. This is a “kennel” – operated by a mentally unbalanced individual. Authentic dog breeders take great care in protecting their dogs, the unique qualities of their breed and lineage. Some people value a purebred animal bred for a specific purpose.

      The reason shelters are full is because irresponsible people allow their animals to reproduce. In my opinion, spay/neuter services should be available to the public on demand for a nominal fee. This would dramatically reduce the number of unwanted pets that end up in shelters.

  8. Kim Toner says:

    Unfortunately the law views animals as property. Animal welfare laws and enforcement vary from state to state, county to county , judge to judge, prosecutor to prosecutor.

    Whomever owned these poor dogs is obviously very troubled and mentally ill. They clearly have access to wealth and could afford a well appointed kennel and compliance with the law. It will take a lengthy fight in the courts – but very worthwhile.

  9. Herb Oxley says:

    In regards to those poor Great Danes how about if the Humane Society could hold a raffle where those it considers qualified to adopt the Great Dane of their choice could purchase a ticket [p1wqas soon as the courts allow.
    Now if the operator of the alleged* puppy-mill is as filthy rich as the mainstream media make her out to be, she will likely have the best (((lawyer))) money can hire.

    If she was a hoarder, she needs help,not prison but me must not own another animal ever!

    In a more rational society, this would be a civil matter where the courts could swiftly assess a penalty payable to the Humane Society for the keep and care of the Great Danes and release them to adoption.

  10. Ashley says:

    Hi- will we know when the dogs are available for adoption and where they’re located? I would (possibly) love to adopt one- I donated and am so thankful for all of your hard work with these pups!

  11. Kelly says:

    I called Governor Sununu but his voicemail was full. I emailed him & urged him to prosecute & have her surrender these 84 Great Danes so that can find their forever homes! If anyone needs to pay for what she has done, it’s her! Sell her estate & use that money towards the care of these furbabies! I’ve been a financial supporter of HSUS for over 20 years & I believe in the work that HSUS does for the nation & beyond!

  12. Lori Jazarevic says:

    My husband and I are loving, experienced Great Dane parents and want to adopt one or two of the rescued pups. We called and were informed they are “evidence” and will not be released for adoption for six months to a year. That is ten years in Great Dane time, We were told to donate at the Humane Society’s national website. This is so sad. Let’s get these sweet souls into loving homes so the healing can begin.

    • Kathy Maher says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I’ve owned rescued Newfoundlands for almost 20 years, and know all too well how short giant breeds’ lives are. Praying these magnificent dogs get to experience the love of families soon!
      I read in another article that these were European imports, so that makes me believe this woman will fight tooth and nail for the monetary investment she sees them as. All I see are gentle souls longing to fulfill their destiny to provide world class companionship. 💕 Would love to adopt one when they become available.

  13. Lesa says:

    I want to adopt a young Dane female to be fixed. (Prefer a Harley or fawn) I am an owner of two Danes that are litter mates that I had purchased 9 years ago to put an end to the start of a puppy mill. I want a young pup to learn from my two seniors…. I can fly to meet them and accompany them back to California. Danes are special dogs that are very sensitive and are so loving. A Dane needs lots of attention and gentle humans. Please let me know asap… thank you

  14. Ann Marie Herlihy says:

    I too have giant breed experience (Irish Wolfhounds)and am interested in adopting a young female. I have a large neutered male agility dog, a medium show dog and an acre for them to run.

    It would help mend my broken heart after the passing of my wolfhound bitch.

    Have all the necessary equipment and budget to provide a wonderful life for a new fur baby..

  15. Debra Burridge says:

    These beautiful animals had to suffer so badly. It’s just not fair. These people should rot in h _ _ _. Where are they all recuperating? They will all be in need of a good home.

  16. Ann Grady says:

    We would like to be contacted when any of these big guys are available for foster or adoption. We are 3x Dane owners. We lost our last gentle giant two years ago after a long illness (heart failure diagnosed at age 4) and it’s time for us to take in a new family member. These angels deserve to live out their days in peace and comfort after what they have been through…

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