Great Danes got minimal care at New Hampshire mansion of horrors

By on June 23, 2017 with 54 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

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)

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  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.

    • Caroline Pomeroy says:

      YES!! Yes! Yes! I so agree.

    • Caden says:

      She certainly wouldn’t have any problem paying for it. Being the offspring of a super rich dude, she’s OF COURSE trying to appeal to the supreme court 🙁

      • Cheryl Dinges says:

        Hey, there lots people out there would love to have one, better life. I for one have some great danes living on 15 acre farm. Lots of room to run. And I try not to cage my babies for any reason. Please I can help take couple off your hands when u r ready. Just text me thanks

  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.

    • Vaishali Honawar says:

      Hi, I am the blog editor. Thank you for your interest. The dogs who were rescued from this situation are considered evidence in a criminal case and they are being cared for in a temporary emergency animal shelter until the final disposition of the case is reached. We can’t legally place the animals into adoptive or foster homes at this time. Once the case reaches its conclusion, we will update everyone on our Facebook page but please know that these cases can take months or even over a year to reach a resolution. Unfortunately, we’re unable to keep a waiting list for potential adopters but we encourage you to stay updated via our newsletter.

      • Kristi says:

        In our city we are working on ways to change the rules around live animals being used as evidence in court cases. Our current ordinance requires an owner to post bond for care in cruelty or neglect cases within 10 days and if they can’t or don’t the prosecutor has the option to ask the court to release the animals for re-homing or humane euthanasia depending on the circumstances. This puts the onus on the owner for the cost of care.

      • Lorri Hayes says:

        Has the status of the dogs changed. Are they still awaiting prosecution of the owner before adoption?

      • Shadow Eagle says:

        What is the url of your facebook page??

      • Jamie says:

        What is the name of your Facebook page?

      • Henry Mendelsohn says:

        I have a great idea ! Instead of having most of these people fined and just get a ‘ Slap on the wrist ‘ , why not petition the court to have these people work at a Humane Society for at a minimum of one year and up, as well as seeing a Therapist !
        It’s sort of like giving back to society and maybe just learning something as well !

      • Michele says:

        I would like to adopt one of these Danes…please contact me…

      • James and Emalee Luna says:

        I’m in also. I could adopt 2 if them, preferably female, I have 2 males. I’m an experienced dog owner. I have an established veterinarian. I have an acre of fenced-in yard, and an additional five acres that are not fenced but that we will be fencing. I’m in Tennessee but I’d like to know how to keep up with these guys. I’d love to do much more than Foster I’d love to give them their forever homes. Thank you so much.
        -Emalee Luna

  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.

    • Gina Bruss says:

      I can not agree with you more!!! Also I am a great dane parent lost him after nine years their lives are so short but so full of love to give
      Let them get homes so happy to adopt when 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…

  17. Darlene Atwood says:

    Has anyone posting about how to go about adopting one of the Danes been contacted or had a response? My husband and I would also love to give 1 or 2 of these deserving gentle giants a forever home, but have not seen or heard of who to contact.

    • Caroline Pomeroy says:

      Darlene, This is an active criminal case. At this point, the dogs are still owned by the breeder. Until the case is finalized, I don’t think adoption is possible. 🙁 …

  18. Suzanne says:

    I would love to adopt a gray great dane. He or she would be a companion to my almost 1 yr old blue merle great dane. Thor needs company his size to play with. I don’t know what is wrong with people these days. These dogs are shy gentle giants. And they need a human to lean on. Hopefully these dogs find homes sooner that later. Please add me to your list of people who want to adopt one of these gentle beauties.

  19. Caroline Pomeroy says:

    I spoke with Tiffany who is currently caring for these dogs. I’d like to volunteer to see how I could help. Please contact me.

  20. Tammy says:

    We adopted a Dane seized by Human Society from Oak Leaf Kennels in VA. Our Max has Addisons Disease and recently defeated Spindle Cell Sarcoma. He is weeks away from his 8th birthday and living in the lap of luxury. Great Dane are exquisitely sensitive animals. Its incomprehensible how someone could abuse them. My hope is for these dogs to end up being spoiled in loving homes. Potential adopters should be experienced Dane owners family with care and associated costs. These are needy and expensive pets.

  21. CHERYL GILES says:

    Could you tell me at what point any of these great danes will be up for adoption or will this be a longstanding legal issue?

  22. CHERYL GILES says:

    I apologize for the two separate comments of this great dane issue. I hhad requested information on the adoption process will open for these magnificent dogs. I have had danes for over 25 years I have rescued a few also. We have run the gammit of illnesses including diabetes requiring insulin, addison disease with cardiomyopathy requiring a cardiologist from Angell Memorial, seizures, two bloat cases both of which successfully underwent surgery successfully. Osteochondritis dissicans in two cases plus a plethera of other problems. As you can imagine we have put our veterinarians children and probably grandchildren through college. Our danes lived generally to ages 14 and 15 and every thing was worth it because they gave us so much more. I am retired and always home so there will be constant companionship. I would be happy to submit references if needed. Thanks to all of you for stepping in for rescues such as these.

    • Vaishali Honawar says:

      Hi Cheryl, I am the blog editor. The dogs who were rescued from this situation are considered evidence in a criminal case and they are being cared for in a temporary emergency animal shelter until the final disposition of the case is reached. We can’t legally place the animals into adoptive or foster homes at this time. Once the case reaches its conclusion, we will update everyone on our Facebook page but please know that these cases can take months or even over a year to reach a resolution. Unfortunately, we’re unable to keep a waiting list for potential adopters but we encourage you to stay updated via our newsletter.

      • CHERYL GILES says:

        Vaishali Honawar, thank you for getting back to me so quickly. No matter how long the wait any one of these magnificent dogs is worth it. Thank you again.

      • Tracey Kilcup says:

        What’s the Facebook page we should be following if we have future interest in adopting one of these dogs in the future??

  23. Irene Clarke says:

    Please contact me is a puppy or young dog becomes available. Thank you.

  24. Irene Clarke says:

    Please let me know when these dogs become available to adoption.
    Thank you.

  25. Chris says:

    15,000 square foot house in a reset community… Confiscate the house and sell that to pay for the rescue. There was obviously a crime committed here. They do it in drug cases, why not for this? Internet research says that home is worth $1.5 million. That should take care of it.

  26. Shannon Yardley says:

    Would love to be contacted when these pups are available for adoption or fostering I want to help
    Thank you

  27. CHERYL GILES says:

    Is this case still in litigation…what is the status of these dogs at this point?

  28. CHERYL GILES says:

    If these dogs are finally put up for adoption after the June 14 hearing do you know if it is the Humane Society of New Hampshire that will be taking applications.

    Just wanted to thank you for your coverage of this and your quick follow up to my questions as well as many other concerned about this issue.

  29. CHERYL GILES says:

    Has there been any word on the June 14th court case regarding the great danes situation?

  30. CHERYL GILES says:

    Is the adoption site information available yet?

  31. James Wirth says:

    I’m a Dane lover and in my eyes no matter how poor or rich you are you should suffer just as in humane conditions as those Danes did

  32. Sharo n Fry says:

    I was mortified reading the story. I could take two. I have 25 yrs of dane experience and vet references and other references to prove it. Please let me know your website so that I can be aware when the are available.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.