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Lawyer for Derry woman fighting to get dogs back says client is 'fit'

Union Leader Correspondent

January 08. 2018 9:25PM

BRENTWOOD — The lawyer for a Derry woman fighting to get her two dogs back argues she’s fit to care for them and that they should be returned.

Richard Samdperil filed a motion Monday in Hillsboro County Court South opposing efforts by the Greater Derry Humane Society, All Four Paws Pet-Sitting, LLC of Derry, and Manchester resident Diane Lajoie, who took legal action to try to keep the dogs in their care.

The court battle over Alice, a cocker spaniel mix, and Anzlo, a German shepherd, stems from an animal cruelty case brought against owner Kristina Gaines in 2015.

Gaines was charged with animal cruelty and surrendered many animals, but the charges weren’t related to the care of her dogs. Still, the dogs were seized and placed in the care of the Humane Society and the others. The fight over the dogs began heating up when the charges against Gaines were dropped after she was found incompetent to stand trial.

A Derry Circuit Court judge then ordered that the dogs be returned to her, but the Humane Society and the others caring for them are now fighting for permanent custody. Their lawyer, Patricia Morris, has raised questions about whether Gaines is capable of properly caring for the dogs if they were returned.

Morris recently filed a petition in superior court seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the dogs despite the circuit court ruling. If the dogs are returned, Morris has requested that Gaines reimburse the agencies for the expense of caring for the dogs while in their custody.

In his motion objecting to the restraining order, Samdperil wrote that Gaines has been in treatment with a licensed pastoral psychotherapist since October 2016 and that since entering treatment she has found housing, maintained sobriety and attended AA.

“Persons with a history of mental illness or an ongoing mental health issue can take proper care of dogs and other animals,” Samdperil wrote, adding that while the agencies argue she’s unable to provide proper care they “have not pointed to any current set of facts or circumstances to support their claims that Ms. Gaines cannot provide proper care for the two dogs or to suggest why compliance with a judicial determination that the dogs must be returned will result in irreparable harm or injury.”

The Rev. William Manseau, president and director of Emmaus Institute Inc. in Nashua, submitted a letter to the court recommending that the dogs be returned.

In the letter, Manseau wrote Gaines has been in treatment with the office on a regular weekly basis.

“I can testify that she is deeply committed to the welfare of animals. I recommend that she be allowed to be reunited with her animals which were taken away from her,” he wrote.

Judge Marguerite Wageling took the case under advisement after a hearing Monday and is expected to rule on the restraining order request this week.

Courts Animals Derry

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