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Judge: Humane Society's participation not wrongful in Great Dane seizure

Union Leader Correspondent

November 01. 2017 11:57AM
Attorney Kent Barker, right, of Nashua, and James Cowles, of Wolfeboro represent Christina Fay, who is on trial for animal cruelty. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

Christina Fay testifies during a previous court hearing on her request to have the Great Dane dogs seized from her Wolfeboro home in June returned. The request was denied. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

OSSIPEE — The trial of a Wolfeboro woman accused of animal cruelty for her alleged treatment of some 80 Great Danes seized from her home this summer is scheduled to resume on Nov. 14.

In an order issued Monday, Judge Charles Greenhalgh denied the defense's latest motion to suppress the search warrant that led to 11 misdemeanor charges against Christina Fay, 59.

Attorney Kent Barker and James Cowles had argued the search of Fay's 149 Warren Sands Road home should be invalidated and any evidence seized be disallowed because the Humane Society of the United States participated in the search with Wolfeboro police.

The defense position was that the Wolfeboro Police Department's failure to identify HSUS and other civilian volunteers as agents who would assist in the search violated Fay's Fourth Amendment right to privacy.

In denying the motion, the judge found that the search warrant complied with the requisites set out in state law and that the testimony of lead investigator Michael Stauch established that Wolfeboro police used many of its own officers, members of the Wolfeboro Fire Department, HSUS and other volunteers to carry out the search.

"This was because WPD simply does not have the manpower or the facilities to safely seize and hold over 80 large dogs," the ruling reads.

The judge also cited the testimony of Jessica Lauginiger, director of animal crimes for HSUS, who said HSUS employees and other volunteers waited until Officer Stauch and other members of the police department had served the warrant, arrested Fay and secured the premises before they entered the property to assist with the removal of the dogs and the gathering of evidence.

State law authorized police to obtain the help of suitable assistants in executing a search warrant, Greenhalgh held. The judge disagreed with the defense's assertions that the actions of the HSUS during the seizure "shock the conscience."

The defense declared that the violation was compounded by the HSUS using for fundraising photos and videos taken during the Great Danes' seizure.

"Given today's media environment, the fact that this case has garnered the attention it has is no shock to the conscience. If the defendant believes she has been defamed or her property misused, she is not she is not without remedy through civil proceedings."

The state has rested its case. The defense had called and completed questioning its first witness, a woman who formerly worked for Fay caring for her dogs, and she had been cross-examined when the trial was recessed Oct. 24.

The trial is to resume on Nov. 14 at 9:30 a.m. in Ossipee circuit court.

Courts Crime Animals Ossipee Wolfeboro

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