In a huge victory in our ongoing fight against commercial breeders who neglect and mistreat the animals in their care, a New Hampshire jury today found a woman who kept 84 Great Danes in filthy conditions inside a New Hampshire mansion guilty on 17 counts of animal cruelty.
This is a fitting end to a horror story that began to unfold in June 2017, when The HSUS assisted in an extraordinary rescue of 84 Great Danes from the custody of Christina Fay. Fay claimed she provided the dogs with outstanding care, but when our Animal Rescue Team entered the building with the Wolfeboro Police Department, which had requested The HSUS’s assistance, the contrast between the mansion’s opulent façade and the conditions inside was shocking. There was an overpowering smell that hit our team members as they walked in, and feces and debris were smeared across all the walls to the point where the windows were opaque. Other dogs in the home appeared to have spent countless hours in cages with no access to water.
In December, a district court convicted and sentenced Fay on 10 counts of animal cruelty, a decision she appealed. The jury that handed down today’s decision after a two-week trial at the Carroll County Superior Court in Ossipee, New Hampshire, heard compelling testimony from witnesses, including a veterinarian experienced in investigating animal cruelty cases who testified that conditions within Fay’s home were the worst she had ever seen.
Many of the dogs were ill and in distress when we found them, and suffered from an array of health problems, including severe eye issues and symptoms associated with communicable illnesses. For The HSUS, which has led the effort to care for the dogs at an emergency animal shelter we constructed especially for them, this has been an expensive undertaking that has cost $1.3 million so far.
On a related track, we have been working with New Hampshire lawmakers to address the enormous financial burden on taxpayers and non-profit organizations in caring for animals legally seized from cruelty investigations. Last week, the state Senate passed a bill that puts the financial burden of caring for rescued animals on the perpetrators of the cruelty involved, rather than on taxpayers.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, would also reform commercial breeder regulations and strengthen penalties for egregious cruelty. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who announced this summer that he’s planning to work with advocates and lawmakers on common sense regulation protecting animals, applauded the passage of the Senate bill and has urged the House to send it to his desk. “Animal Cruelty will not be tolerated in New Hampshire,” Sununu said, adding that the bill would ensure that the “horrendous treatment of the Great Danes from Wolfeboro never happens again.”
This week, we also expect the New Hampshire Senate finance committee to vote to approve a $200,000 appropriation in the bill which would fund two new inspectors for the Department of Agriculture to inspect not only commercial dog kennels but all currently licensed entities like animal shelters, rescue organizations, and pet stores. A hearing to determine sentencing for Fay and the custody of the dogs is expected to be scheduled within 30 days.
P.S. In another case brought to light by our HSUS rescue team, we got good news last week from Alabama, where we helped with a rescue of 65 dogs from a suspected breeding operation in 2015. The dogs and puppies were starving, severely underweight, and living in terrible conditions. Last week, a court found defendant Jerome Wesley Hughes guilty on six counts of felony animal cruelty and one misdemeanor.