Looking back at 2017: Great Danes abuse case inspires legislative push | New Hampshire
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Looking back at 2017: Great Danes abuse case inspires legislative push

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

December 25. 2017 9:06PM
This puppy's mother was among the dozens of Great Danes seized when Christina Fay of Wolfeboro was charged with animal cruelty in June. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent file photo)



CHRISTINA FAY

Editor's Note: As 2017 comes to a close, the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News take a look back at some of the top stories in a year marked by unspeakable crime, sex scandal, political milestones and business achievements. This is the second in a series spotlighting the year’s leading news events.

WOLFEBORO — Leaders in the Humane Society of the United States said the ugly scene at Christina Fay’s Wolfeboro mansion on Warren Sands Road was almost beyond words when they came to take away her 75 Great Danes last June 16.

Police photos showed rooms filled with urine and feces, with authorities having to don full hazmat suits to take the animals out to safety.

“Frankly, they almost had to destroy the house — all the walls were ripped out; it’s basically down to studs — to decontaminate it,” said state Rep. Stephen Schmidt, R-Wolfeboro.

Last week a Belknap County Superior Court judge ordered Fay, 59, to pay nearly $800,000 in restitution and imposed a lifetime ban on her owning more than one dog, with the animal having to be spayed or neutered.

She could have been put in jail a year for each of the 10 counts of animal cruelty convictions handed down against her.

“I’m not going to put Ms. Fay in jail. I don’t think she belongs there,” said Judge Charles Greenhalgh.

The judge tried to legally pressure Fay not to appeal the sentencing, even though she plans to.

Fay has to to pay a $2,000 bond for each of the disputed animals while contesting her conviction.

For her part, Fay testified her dogs were mistreated by those who took the dogs into care.

Fay said the allegations were, “overblown, untrue and profoundly unfair. I never had a bad word to say. They have smeared me for six months.”

She asked the media to “pray for my dogs” and wanted to keep nine of the European Great Danes she called the “Van Goghs and Rembrandts” of the canine world.

According to Fay, she was the victim of a “perfect storm” as staff left her without enough help to properly care for her charges.

Prosecutors said Fay may have loved the animals but hoarded them and continued to acquire more and more starting with the 30 she moved from Maine to New Hampshire in 2015.

Timothy Morgan said the state repeatedly tried to reach agreement with Fay over ownership of the dogs and that she had the opportunity to reduce her liability, but wouldn’t agree to surrender the animals.

Animal rights leaders pointed to the case as an example of unethical and inhumane treatment of helpless dogs.

“The suffering these animals endured at Fay’s hands could have been alleviated much sooner or prevented if New Hampshire had stronger commercial breeding laws,” said Lindsay Hamrick, state director of the Humane Society.

But some maintain this response was too heavy-handed and that Fay was made a scapegoat in a state that until now has been very lax in its oversight of kennel operations.

Under state law, the Department of Agriculture only licenses and inspects commercial kennels that sell 10 litters of puppies, or 50 puppies, in a 12-month period. Only five kennels currently are licensed; Fay’s De La Sang Monde Kennel was not one of them.

Gov. Chris Sununu has gotten behind legislation that Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, is championing that would base licensing on how many breeding females a kennel owner has.

New Hampshire lawmakers have previously considered and rejected these get-tough regulations about commercial breeding.

State Rep. Schmidt says the Fay case changes all that and legitimate breeders should embrace the change.

“In fact, they ought to welcome it because it just might get some of the ones who aren’t responsible out of business,” Schmidt added.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


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