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Great Danes owner plans to appeal animal cruelty verdict

Union Leader Correspondent

December 12. 2017 11:17PM
Christina Fay gets a pat on the back from Attorney James Cowles of Wolfeboro during her trial that will enter its fifth day in the 3rd Circuit, District Division Ossipee Court on Tuesday. (Bea Lewis/Correspondent)

WOLFEBORO — Christina Fay was convicted of 10 counts of animal cruelty, but her legal team says it will appeal.

“Obviously everybody is disappointed. We were hoping for a different result,” said James Cowles, who defended Fay along with attorney Kent Barker of Nashua during the six-day trial.

Fay, 59, is scheduled to be sentenced in 3rd Circuit Court within 30 days. Each charge is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Wolfeboro police and fire departments, along with the Humane Society of the United States and Pope Memorial SPCA, seized 75 Great Danes from Fay’s Wolfeboro home after receiving reports of squalid conditions.

In the 20-page order released Tuesday, Judge Charles Greenhalgh said Fay’s guilt was clear.

“The evidence shows the defendant did not give proper care, sustenance or shelter,” he wrote.

“Many of the dogs had untreated illnesses including giardia, ear infections, and papilloma virus. The evidence shows these illnesses began to multiply and spread, untreated, between May and June 16, 2017.

“The dogs were left without adequate water on multiple occasions. They were housed in inadequate, unsanitary facilities, which did not allow them to remain clean and dry. Their living areas were poorly ventilated and they were exposed to unhealthy levels of ammonia.”

The dogs will remain in the care of the Humane Society of the United States pending final resolution of the case.

Attorney Cowles said anyone convicted of a Class A misdemeanor punishable by jail time has the right to appeal to the Superior Court and seek a jury trial. Such an appeal would be decided without any reference to the legal conclusions reached Tuesday.

“It will be like the first trial never happened,” Cowles said.

Anyone sentenced by a circuit court for a Class A misdemeanor may also petition the state Supreme Court for a review limited to questions of law.

The ruling can be viewed below:

Wolfeboro Police Chief Dean Rondeau said he is “thrilled” Fay was convicted of all 10 counts of animal cruelty; three other charges were dismissed earlier.

“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to prosecutors Simon Brown and Timothy Morgan, as well as the Humane Society of the United States, Conway Area Humane Society and Pope Memorial SPCA for their incredible work and dedication to rescuing and seeking justice for these Great Danes,” the chief said.

Lindsay Hamrick, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, was pleased with the judge’s verdict, but said there’s a public policy issue it doesn’t address.

“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,” she said.

Hamrick said the Humane Society is committed to reforming commercial breeder regulations, to strengthening penalties for egregious cruelty and to address the enormous financial burden placed on taxpayers and nonprofit organizations to care for abused animals.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, has introduced legislation to address these issues.

Attorney Morgan said during a pretrial hearing that if the state prevailed he would ask the court to award legal custody of the dogs to the state so they could be adopted into new homes.

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