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Bristol woman ordered to pay more than $40,000 for care of dogs seized in cruelty cases

Union leader Correspondent

March 14. 2018 9:26AM

PLYMOUTH — A Bristol woman has been ordered to pay the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals more than $40,000 for the care of 35 dogs seized from her home and a rental property in Alexandria.

In an order issued March 8 in Plymouth District Court, Judge Thomas Rappa also allowed the society’s motion for veterinary fees and to be an intervener in the animal-cruelty cases being brought against Jennifer Choate, 48, by the Bristol and Alexandria police departments.

But Rappa deferred a decision on the society’s request for permanent custody of the dogs until after a hearing is held on the state’s previously-filed motion for forfeiture of the seized animals.

Choate, who has pleaded not guilty to 29 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, 24 from Alexandria and five from Bristol, has until Friday to file a response to that motion.

A Bristol native, Choate returned to a family home there on Chestnut Street in 2017 and, it is believed, resumed her dog breeding/kenneling business that she had operated in Halifax, Mass., as Tarawood Kennels.

The Bristol and Alexandria police departments last October conducted searches of Choate’s home and a barn on Burns Hill Road, but did not find any citable conditions.

On Nov. 22, a fire at Choate’s home killed seven dogs while on Dec. 13, 27 dogs were killed in a fire in a cottage on the property.

On Jan. 2, during a cold snap, Alexandria police executed a search warrant at the barn rented by Choate and found 22 dogs in the unheated space where temperatures were around 11 degrees below zero.

As of Feb. 8, the NHSPCA, according to court documents, had spent $19,350 to feed and shelter the 13 dogs seized from Choate’s Bristol home, and $21,400 on the 22 dogs seized in Alexandria.

In its motion for forfeiture of seized animals, the state refers only to the dogs that were seized in Alexandria, and says that failure to grant ownership to the NHSPCA would be “so offensive to basic concepts of decency treasured” that it would “undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

Forfeiting the dogs to the NHSPCA, wrote attorney Cayla Kevlik, “would control the spiraling costs of proper care during the pendency of this case by allowing the dogs to be adopted out as soon as they are medically cleared.”

Kevlik noted that Choate has made no effort to reimburse the NHSPCA for such ongoing costs.

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