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Monadnock animal shelter swamped with Labrador retrievers; bill now tops $50k

Union Leader Correspondent

September 18. 2018 8:01PM
Many Labrador puppies are being cared for at the Monadnock Humane Society in Swanzey while the criminal animal cruelty case against John Riggieri proceeds in court. (Damien Fisher/Union Leader Correspondent)

SWANZEY — The dozens of Labrador retrievers taken from a Marlborough man charged with animal cruelty earlier this summer have cost the Monadnock Humane Society at least $50,000 so far, and that figure could double before the case ends in court, said Kathy Collingsworth, the executive director for the Monadnock Humane Society.

“We’ve exhausted our medical fund for the year already,” she said.

The organization broke even last fiscal year for the first time in 10 years, she said. But that was before the 52 dogs and one cat were taken from John Riggieri’s Marlborough home and brought to the Swanzey animal shelter. Two and a half months later and the organization is scrambling to cover its costs.

Riggieri was allegedly running a dog breeding operation out his home. Numerous reports of loose dogs wandering Route 124 and other concerns got law enforcement to intervene in July.

He is charged with negligent cruelty after dogs were found injured and some puppies were found in a bathtub, injured and overexposed to their own feces, according to initial reports.

Riggieri has denied the charges and said they are connected to a bank’s attempt to take his property.

The dogs have been treated for parasites and other conditions. The biggest concern now is for their future, said Collingsworth. Many of the dogs are not house-trained, and almost all lack basic obedience skills and training.

The shelter has an anonymous donor who is putting up a $53,000 matching grant to help the shelter defray the costs of having so many dogs all at once.

“Our costs could easily surpass $100,000,” Collingsworth said.

The fate of the dogs ultimately rests on the outcome of the animal cruelty trial, now set for Oct. 1 in Keene. With appeals, the dogs could be at the shelter for months to come.

A Go Fund Me campaign was started to help Riggieri get his dogs back by raising $25,000. The campaign ended after having raised $1,685.

Courts Crime Animals Keene Marlborough Swanzey


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