Breaking news: Judge says New Hampshire Great Danes can be placed for adoption

By on June 15, 2018 with 68 Comments

The verdict is in — and it’s a good one — for the future of dozens of Great Danes who have spent a year in legal limbo since their dramatic rescue from a New Hampshire breeder’s mansion last June. A judge yesterday ruled that the dogs can now be placed for adoption, and that the breeder who kept them in filthy conditions should pay restitution for the costs of caring for them for the past year.

This is a remarkable victory for the dogs who have been living at a temporary shelter that the Humane Society of the United States has built and maintained since they were rescued a year ago. Our priority has always been to ensure that the dogs be placed into suitable and loving homes and we are thrilled that they will now get that chance.

The judge awarded full restitution to the town of Wolfeboro and to the Humane Society of the United States, which has spent nearly $2 million to date in caring for the dogs, at an emergency shelter we constructed especially for them. However, the defendant has said she plans to appeal that part of the decision.

We owe a great debt of thanks to all of our followers and donors whose volunteer time and financial generosity has helped us meet the immense burden of caring for the dogs. This has been an expensive undertaking with costs incurred for constructing and maintaining a temporary animal shelter, staffing it with experienced consultants with professional training as animal care experts in shelter management, behavioral health and wellness, etc., bringing in Animal Rescue Team volunteers for daily support, and providing extensive veterinary care to the dogs.

We balanced the cost of the case with a strategy of effectively and efficiently using volunteers, in-kind contributions, and careful expenditure in the interests of maintaining an exceptional standard of care through a long term holding situation where every dog was provided with an individual plan, attention and expert veterinary treatment. Due to the dogs’ size and conditions associated with their breeding, it has been a Herculean task to provide appropriate diets, medical care, and exercise and enrichment appropriate for their ongoing mental and physical well-being.

This long-running saga began to unfold almost exactly a year ago, when we assisted in the rescue of the Great Danes, some sick, living in filthy conditions inside a mansion in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. When members of our Animal Rescue Team and volunteers from the Pope Memorial SPCA and Conway Area Humane Society entered the opulent mansion alongside officials of the Wolfeboro Police Department, which had requested our assistance, they encountered an overpowering smell in the house, and feces and debris were smeared across all the walls to the point where the windows were opaque.

In March, a jury convicted the defendant of 17 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, including depriving the dogs of necessary access to water. 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.

In May, Judge Amy Ignatius sentenced the breeder, Christina Fay, to jail time, and admonished her for not showing any “signs of remorse” for what she did to the animals in her care. The judge was unequivocal at the May hearing, saying, “We take these crimes seriously and [cruelty] is not to be tolerated.”

At yesterday’s ruling, Judge Ignatius agreed to suspend jail time as long as the defendant attends counseling with a therapist who will report to the court.

When Judge Ignatius issued her forfeiture order from the bench allowing rehoming for the dogs to begin immediately, she expressed her concerns for the dogs’ best interests saying, “My hope is that it happens very quickly. I wish it had happened months ago.” A sentiment that we could not agree with more.

Many of you have expressed interest in adopting these dogs, and we will keep you updated as we begin to work with our Emergency Placement Partners to place the dogs in their forever homes.

A huge kudos to our teams at the Humane Society of the United States that helped in the rescue of these animals, assisted the prosecution in bringing the breeder to justice, and worked to care for these animals for the past year.

We believe all of this cruelty could have been alleviated much sooner if New Hampshire had stronger regulations for commercial dog breeders, and we remain committed to strengthening the laws to ensure taxpayers and non-profits are not carrying the financial burden to care for animals seized in animal cruelty cases.

Even as we celebrate this victory for the Great Danes today, let’s keep our eye focused on finding solutions for the future. New Hampshire lawmakers and Gov. Chris Sununu are committed to strengthening cost of care laws and reforming commercial breeder regulations in the state, and we will work with them to address these issues so animals never again have to suffer in substandard commercial breeder operations.

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

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  1. Steven Bagenski says:

    Wonderful! I am so proud to be part of the HSUS and the ARC.

    • Shana says:

      I hope this sets a precedent for other states to follow. Thank you for the work you do.

      • Annie says:

        Hi Shana, We are all relieved that these dogs can finally move on and are healthier but please do not use NH as a high standard for animal welfare. Like most states we need serious upgrading of the protections and processing for such horrible cases. We tried this year to get that done but have not been successful as of yet. But for today….YEA for the Danes!

    • Lisa says:

      Totally agree

    • Bev Woodburn says:

      I definitely agree with you. Wonderful! Great news for these precious Great Danes.
      Such a beautiful and precious sentient being.

    • Kathy says:

      How do I sign up to adopt?

      • Waya says:

        I would like information on a adoption application’s for a Gentle giant Great Dane that was ceased from New Hampshire
        Thank you

        • Kurt says:

          “Ceased or seized,” it doesn’t matter the grammer, it was still a great day for these Great Dane dogo’s when the judge ruled to release them for immediate adoption!! 😀😁

  2. Juanita Graskey says:

    Fantastic!! So very happy for the Great Danes!!!

  3. Dianna Black says:

    Thank you Judge!

  4. Suzannah Troy says:

    Wow!!!’ So proud of every hero frontline and otherwise to make this happen!

  5. Pat Brooks says:

    I am so thrilling !!!!!! I have a knob in my throat !!!!!!! Thank you so much for all of your hard work.

  6. Sue says:

    Wonderful great heartwarming news!! God Bless all for your continued support and help!! Animal Lover in Howell MI

  7. Karen P. says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the hard work HSUS and Judge Ignatius!!
    You never gave up on these Great Danes…proud to support HSUS
    These precious animals have a new lease on a better life.

  8. Evelyn Carter says:

    So happy for these puppies

  9. Kim Parr says:

    Great job HSUS, attorneys, judges and lawmakers. Thank you to all of the volunteers and HSUS employees for giving up a year of your lives.

    Christina Faye will be judged again another day and until then may she have an epiphany and realize what she has done. Or get mental health help, because only a very sick, disturbed individual could do this to animals.

  10. Lauri Ann says:

    People ask me why I donate monthly to HSUS. To them I say…..This!
    Here’s hoping the dogs find the loving homes that they deserve!

  11. Norma says:

    I am so happy to hear the wonderful news. God Bless all of the animals. May they all get to go to great homes. 😅

  12. Mariah Almonte says:

    Thank You, most auspicious and intelligent Judge…you are a blessing.
    Gratitude to all those who experience and promote the Animal Nations as worthy of all the kindnesses and graces that exist.
    Companion to beloved Dane beings for 30 years…..aho

  13. Paige says:

    So excited for these beautiful dogs to get a family!!!
    I cannot day enough for the work this organization does. Our furry family member came to us after suffering in conditions of death and starvation along with roughly 600+ dogs, cats, horses, & birds. The Humane Society came in with 3-4 18 wheelers filled with food, supplies, bedding, leashes, cages, medication, vaccinations, surgical supplies, loads of volunteers, and set up a temporary warehouse to contain all of the surviving animals for almost 8 months. They had a 2 day adoption waving their usual adoption fees. There was not one animal that did not get a new family. The love was abundant in each potential family that waited in line for more than 5 hours for some of them. My husband and I were 16 th in line for the first day and every dog was smiling and tails wagging. I spotted our Darcy( bearded collie mix) and was to be a surprise for our 5 yr old son who said she was “ just so beautiful “ and gave her the name Darcy. She will be 3 in September and has made our lives better and softened my husband so much that Darcy gets pampered more than I ever did. I will never be able to thank the Humane Society enough for what they gave us. I will forever find something to give because I know the trauma so many animals suffer at the hands of monsters that for the volunteers to be the first on the scene and to return trust back into the countless will forever be true heroes that need the money to continue to fight against laws and change them so people will be held accountable. I still think they should have to go to jail. Nor should they ever be allowed to be near another animal for the rest of their lives. Thank you Humane Society Volunteers. ♥️♥️♥️♥️

  14. Diane Colt says:

    I have had my Great Dane for 8 years and to know this breed it makes it even more sad … thank GOD for rescues like you !!

    • Jo Oppenheimer says:

      As a one and two year old, I grew up with our family Great Dane in an apartment. Junior would wag his tail and something would fall but I thought it funny, unlike my parents. Junior was my “horsie” (I was very small and he was very large). Unfortunately, the summer i was two, someone poisoned Junior and he disappeared from my life. I still love the breed although I don’t have one, being a rescuer of mutts.

  15. Diana says:

    So nice to finally hear good follow up news to a horrific story and congrats to the HSUS. The only thing that would make this story even better was if Christina Fay spent time in jail under the same deplorable conditions for the same amount of time those poor Great Danes were suffering in. By the court ordering therapy and reporting to the court does not seem stringent enough.

    • Beverly Tyson says:

      All I can is “Thank God” with the continued efforts of people like us that truly love and care for our furry little friends that don’t have a voice there is justice in this world. Boy oh boy did this woman pick the wrong animals and group of people to mess with their precious lives. I can only hope this will be a strong Example to send future Bridgers on what can happen to see him financially in the future, because let’s face it these people are only out for money they do not have a conscious bone in their body.

  16. Annabel Edwards says:

    Wonderful news brillant.

  17. Suzanne Brouillette says:

    It’s about time that a judge can see what animal cruelty is all about. I hope to God more judges take this by example. Yeah for the judge now maybe these Dane’s can finally find a forever home. Suzanne

  18. Ellen Schofield says:

    What a fantastic story! Enormous thanks to Judge Ignatius for her justice and compassion and to the Humane Society for their incredible hard work and commitment. Not to mention the financial investment.

    A great story for the start of the weekend!

  19. Lisa shinn says:

    Next step is to throw out this puppy mill owners case and make her pay for ALL the care these dogs deserved and received by the humane society….now THAT would be setting a precedent!!!! And it should be a federal offense and those who continue to do this to innocent animals need to get hit where it hurts…..their pockets!!!! Best to all the dogs in finding forever homes where they are part of a loving family!!!!

  20. Paige Arnold says:

    I think Christina Fay should have to serve every minute of her jail term AND have to complete a mental evaluation/counseling to learn how to be a better human being (if that’s possible)… addition to paying restitution to HSUS. SHAME ON HER!

  21. CHERYL GILES says:

    I am so glad to see the results of this case. I have had Great Danes for over 30 years and they are the epitome of gentle giants. I wish we had more judges like this one. My greatest admiration goes out to the dedication of the HSUS and other rescue groups to eliminate the continued abuse and neglect of the animals with no voice. Thank you to every one involved…amazing people!

  22. Linda Beaman says:

    We are blessed to have so many caring volunteers, dedicated in saving and improving the lives of the precious animal who suffer so horribly. God Bless them

  23. Rhonda says:

    Thank you so much for your hard work!

  24. Elsa Encarnacion says:

    This is great news. Finally a judge who understands the plight of abused animals and knows how to serve out justice. I would still make this person serve jail time. Thank u for all u do for the safety of animals!

  25. CAROLINE says:

    SUSPEND IT ???

  26. Ann MacMichael says:

    I read elsewhere that the judge allowed her to keep two of the dogs. Will you confirm or deny, please? I’m hoping that is not true and that she has been prohibited from ever owning an animal of any kind.

  27. Janice Jenkins says:

    I too think she should do jail time especially as she had no remorse for what she did as well as pay back HSUS for all the fees they have put out. Thank you for the great job you did saving these beautiful animals. Now they have a chance for a happy life.

  28. Candy Frantz-Crafton says:


  29. Mary warren says:

    Thank you for a job well done.
    How could we be put on a list for adoption. We have been waiting for this day!!!!

  30. Kathy Danchise says:

    I thank goodness everyday for HSUS. And cry everyday for animals that are treated so badly. Thank you all for being there for them – and me. You are all such very special people. You make the world a better place. Keep up the spectacular work and all you do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

  31. Mark Francis says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome.

  32. Bettina Goodall says:

    Born and raised in Wolfeboro- I was so shocked to hear about this horrific situation. I am so thankful for the angels who uncovered this and have taken such incredible care of these wonderful dogs.
    My one major disappointment: I think Ms. Fay should serve significant jail time. She clearly feels no remorse and will probably do this again. Need much tougher animal abuse laws….. and she definitely must pay for every penny of their care.

  33. Jennifer Thuermer says:

    Best news ever!!!! All these wonderful dogs deserve loving homes!!! Thank you for all of you commitment and endless work to get them to their forever homes <3

  34. Robynne Catheron says:

    Thank God, and may He bless the HSUS, the Animal Rescue Team, everyone who donated funds or time, and the judge who saw fit to ensure the woman not only receive counseling, but pay restitution, as well.
    I’m so glad to hear these beautiful dogs will have loving forever homes.

  35. Tanya says:

    Job well done and a great big thank you to all for saving these sweet, loving dogs!

  36. Sharon D says:

    I’m certainly happy that these pups can now go to loving homes, but I disagree with the judge letting her get counseling instead of jail. And for her to be able to appeal the 2 million dollar judgement is sinful! She should have placed that as one of the conditions of her forfeited jail time! These people will never learn unless they get hit where it hurts!! She’s just going to do this again and again!!!!

  37. RGlickel says:

    My college mascot (UAlbany)is the Great Dane. These dogs are BIG LOVE! We love ‘em AND we love HSUS!! So proud.

  38. Karen sheldon says:

    I have had Great Danes, and they truly are the most gentle giants. The 3 that owned me were wonderful, kind, sweet, and many times my lap dog. They certainly didn’t deserve this abuse. I hope to be considered as someone who understands and loves this breed so much, so therefore would love to adopt one. My last Great Dane was almost 10 He had had arthritis in his back legs and hip. My great vet decided to treat him one a month with a drug called “Adequan” that worked for a year. Worked really well, but when he couldn’t get up on his own, I had to make that awful decision. I have his memories that will last forever. Miss him so mush.

  39. Linda Motschiedler says:

    Great news for the dogs and I think the world of the HSUS. A small town could never have accomplished what needed to be done for these dogs withou them. Thank God they are always there to step in when needed in any crisis. The judge got it right for the dogs. However I do think that lawmakers need to change animal cruelty from a misdemeanor to a felony AND she should serve her jail time!!
    Also she obviously has no remorse since she wants to appeal The financial restitution aspect of the case. She was obviously always in this only for the money and had no care for the dogs and that has still not changed!!!

  40. Andreya says:

    Kudos to HSUS and Judge Amy Ignatius! I hope this sets precedent across the country. Montana could use some real help when it comes to the welfare of animals.

    Mahatma Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

  41. Sophie Smyth says:

    Glad to see the dogs will be given homes, but very angry about the judge suspending jail time for this sadistic piece of garbage as long as it gets counselling. What a crock.

  42. Geomare says:

    Fantastic news for the doggies!
    Thank you all that participated in this great event of freedom, respect and compassion for the dogs👏♥️

  43. Stephen Kolodny says:

    Amazing work, you are to be highly complimented but the satisfaction of what you have accomplished is probably all that wonderful people like you need.

    I would be interested in the criminal punishment this abuser received. Will you tell us?

  44. janice henderson says:

    I would like to see all back yard breeders shut down.I don’t think responsible/ethical breeders should be punished along with the byb.They should be required to show// title ,health test (breed specific testing),limited breeding…Not commercial breeding.Before getting a kennel lic….All breeders should be required to get a kennel lic.

  45. CHERYL GILES says:

    is there any information yet as to who you can submit paperwork to be considered to be able to adopt one of these dogs…I have contacted Humane Society of New Hampshire but haven’t heard back. Thank you Cheryl Giles

  46. Henry Mendelsohn says:

    What I would like to know is how do I go about getting one of these beautiful Great Danes. I live in Long Island, NY and I am looking for a companion to my very friendly Mastiff that I rescued 18 months ago, from the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. We take him to the Dog Park whenever we are able too & he loves to play with every dog, no matter what the size !

  47. Barb says:

    I read an article in the High Plains Journal ( by Trent Loos titled, She has too many dogs. It is the other side of the story. I encourage all to read it before mindlessly throwing criticism at Christina Fay.

  48. Marylee Taylor says:

    I would LOVE to add one of them to our family. Can anyone advise me who to contact???? I live in CT BUT am willing to travel for pickup and OR interview. MANY THANKS!!!!

  49. MARIA L. DIAZ says:

    I would like to adopt one of the Great Danes!

    Please let me know how to proceed.

    Thank you

    Phone no. 786-543-1708 office 305-718-8919

  50. margarita clayton says:

    Hopefully, there are more judges nationwide that take all of this judge’s conclusions to heart, plus follow up on the process. Thank you all who worked on this case & I hope all the Great Danes find LOVING homes soon.

  51. Jo Macek says:

    How can someone adopt one of the Great Danes? I have 2+ acres (fenced) in Michigan. I have a doggie door so my dogs (all rescued) can go outside whenever they want. P.S. My husband and I moved from Arizona to Michigan with 11 dogs driving in our Durango and Caliber, sleeping in our cars at truck stops, letting our dogs out for breaks every two hours. I would never leave my dogs.

  52. HD says:

    GREAT!!!! This news makes me so happy. Never, ever stop fighting for this incredible friends. Thanks to those who love animals and the support we all together give to this cause. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  53. Joanne Burrows says:

    Wonderful job at handling this case so professionally and quickly.
    Thank you again! Please hug each and everyone of those beautiful pups.

  54. Jodi Chill says:

    Really great news about the Great Danes! I’m so happy for them!! What I don’t understand is why it took so long for a judge to release them for adoption. Laws need to be made stronger, and should include mandatory jail time plus heavy fines. There should be NO PLEA BARGAINS. Judges and the like should not be allowed to change a sentence Period!

  55. Waya says:

    When can the adoption begin and who do we contact to start the procedures to Love and Cherish forever.

  56. DaneMom says:

    There are two sides to every story. Why, when breeders who had placed these dogs with Ms. Fay, requested their dogs back, were they never contacted? Why were people who expressed interest in these dogs never contacted by HSUS, even after the Judge ruled they could be placed? Why were questions about the health and care of these dogs by HSUS never answered? I find it odd that an organization that supports dog killer Michael Vick could be so vindictive to Ms. Fay. Many people have supported her, yet we only hear about HSUS and the “wonderful” job they do? Why is this?

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