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Donations pour in to help Wolfeboro Great Danes

New Hampshire Sunday News

June 25. 2017 8:09PM
Donations of food and cash have been pouring in to the Humane Society of the United States and the Conway and Concord shelters that were involved in the June 16 rescue of Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill in Wolfeboro. (COURTESY)

Donations have been pouring in to the animal rescue groups that saved 93 Great Danes from a filth-filled Wolfeboro mansion earlier this month. So, too, are hundreds of offers to adopt the dogs.

But it will be quite some time before most are available for adoption.

Lindsay Hamrick is New Hampshire state director for the Humane Society of the United States. She said the 84 dogs and puppies removed from Christina Fay’s home and a Bartlett veterinary clinic on June 16 won’t be available until the resolution of the criminal case against Fay, who is charged with animal cruelty.

“Animals are evidence under the law, so we have essentially offered the Wolfeboro police department that we’re going to hold their evidence, for lack of a better word, until the end of the case,” Hamrick said.

Also, she said, “Animals are property under the law, and these dogs are the defendant’s property until the court decides otherwise.”

Fay, 59, actually had 93 dogs at her home in May. She had surrendered nine of them to the Conway Area Humane Society in May; one of those dogs gave birth to three puppies last Friday. Those dogs will be available once their health improves, according to Virginia Moore, the shelter’s executive director.

Moore said the rescued dogs have been enjoying the shelter’s three-acre dog park. “They’ve been able to do something that they didn’t get to do, which is just run and play,” she said.

To care for the other 84 dogs, an HSUS animal rescue team built an emergency shelter at an undisclosed location in New Hampshire, setting up large kennels where between 12 and 15 staff and volunteers care for the dogs daily, Hamrick said.

The rescue took 14 hours, Hamrick said. The dogs are larger than typical Great Danes, so they had to bring in horse trailers to transport the animals because even the biggest crates were too small. “Logistically, it’s one of the most challenging rescues that the HSUS has ever done,” she said.

They tried to keep dogs that were living near each other in the Wolfeboro house together at the new shelter. “Maybe there’s some comfort in what they know,” she said.

Some of the dogs have contagious medical conditions, including papilloma virus, which can spread to other dogs, and giardia, a parasite that’s transmissible to people, according to Hamrick. “Even if we were able to get custody of these dogs tomorrow, we would still be looking at months of medical treatment before the animals could be sent other places because of the risk they pose to other dogs,” she said.

She expects the costs of caring for the giant dogs will reach six figures.

Fay did not have a state license to operate a kennel. But she apparently didn’t need one, according to Dr. Stephen Crawford, the state veterinarian.

Under state law, the Department of Agriculture only licenses commercial kennels that sell 10 litters of puppies, or 50 puppies, in a 12-month period.

Crawford said he’s seen no evidence that Christina Fay sold that many dogs from the De La Sang Monde Great Danes kennel she operated inside her mansion on Warren Sands Road in Wolfeboro.

Crawford said he first heard about Fay two years ago when the Wolfeboro town clerk emailed him about a woman who had just moved to town from Maine. Fifty dogs had been delivered to her house and the owner was claiming they were pets; the town clerk was asking how to handle the situation.

His office emailed back, explaining the licensing regulations and suggesting the town might need to address any zoning issues. “We never heard back so I didn’t think much of it,” he said.

Last October, the town clerk emailed him again, telling him a woman in town had a website advertising Great Danes for sale. Crawford looked into it, and contacted Fay’s veterinarian, who told him that in the prior 10 months, she had only written health certificates for 15 puppies.

That’s the last he heard about Christina Fay until a few weeks ago, when Wolfeboro police informed him they were investigating allegations of animal cruelty and neglect at her house.

To Crawford, “This case seems to have lots of the hallmarks of a classic animal hoarding case.”

“This woman seemed to have the means to take care of the animals. And she didn’t,” he said. “That was awful, and they’re in a better place.”

But Crawford said, “Simply owning a large number of animals isn’t an indicator there’s ... something terrible going on.”

Kathie Shea is the rescue chair for the Great Dane Club of America. She said Christina Fay was not a member of either the national or local clubs. But she said Great Dane rescue groups in New England were aware of Fay because some of the dogs she had sold had ended up in rescue because of health problems.

Shea, who has been involved in Great Dane rescue for more than 30 years, says she doesn’t think Fay was operating a puppy mill. “She’s just a breeder that got out of control,” she said.

“And whether it’s a mental problem that she had, which hoarding really is, no good breeder has that many dogs.”

Shea said Fay’s dogs appear to be the so-called European style of Great Dane, larger and heavier than the American standard for the breed. She said the rescued dogs “could very well bounce back” from what they’ve endured. “They do tend to be pretty resilient and pretty forgiving,” she said.

Hamrick said she welcomes support from Great Dane rescue groups who want to help take care of the dogs. And she said if the dogs eventually are legally relinquished to HSUS, “We will then work with our partners at animal shelters and rescues all over the country to make sure these animals are placed in loving homes.”

Donations of food and cash have been pouring in to HSUS and the Conway and Concord shelters that were involved in the dogs’ rescue. A local pet store donated a trailer load of food to the Conway shelter. Residents of Alton collected $1,200 in cash and another $500 worth of food. A man from Wolfeboro has come by twice with donations from some of Fay’s neighbors, and a woman brought two checks: one “for the Great Danes” and one “for the others.”

“I can’t believe the love that’s coming into this place,” said Moore.

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