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Sentence: No jail time, $791k restitution, 1 pet for woman in Wolfeboro Great Dane case

Union Leader Correspondent

December 21. 2017 12:05PM
Christina Fay testifies on Thursday prior to her sentencing hearing, asking a judge to allow nine of her Great Dane dogs be returned to her pending the appeal of her conviction of animal cruelty charges. The judge denied the request. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

Christina Fay, 59, far right, speaks passionately to a group of assembled media after she was sentenced on Thursday on 10 counts of animal cruelty and neglect. Imposition of the sentence was stayed pending appeal. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

OSSIPEE — A judge has ordered a former Wolfeboro woman convicted of animal cruelty to pay $791,719.88 in restitution and imposed a ban allowing that for the remainder of her life she can own just one dog at a time.

Christina Fay, 59, was also sentenced to 12 months in jail, on each of the 10 counts, to be served concurrently, but all were suspended.

"I'm not going to put Ms. Fay in jail. I don't think she belongs there," said Judge Charles Greenhalgh.

As part of his sentence Thursday, Greenhalgh ordered that Fay could regain custody of one dog of her choosing, which must be spayed or neutered.

The sentence will remain on hold while Fay's legal team appeals to Carroll County Superior Court for a jury trial.

The judge further ordered that Fay must post a bond of $2,000 per animal to retain an ownership interest, pending the appeal.

Prosecutor Timothy Morgan said the "magnitude and egregiousness" of the facts warranted a jail sentence.

In asking the court to award restitution of $1,497.11 to the Pope Memorial SPCA, $16,335.77 to the town of Wolfeboro and $773,887 to the Humane Society of the United States, Morgan said, Fay "should be held responsible for the damages she caused."

Morgan said the state repeatedly tried to reach agreement with Fay over ownership of the dogs and that she had the opportunity to mitigate her liability, but wouldn't agree to surrender them. 

He said Fay demonstrated a callous disregard for the care of the dogs and has shown no remorse.

Outside the courtroom, Fay said the allegations were, "overblown, untrue and profoundly unfair. I never had a bad word to say. They have smeared me for six months."

She asked the assembled media to "pray for my dogs."

During sentencing, Morgan said allowing Fay to have custody of nine of the dogs, as the defense had requested, would not be appropriate.

Before the sentence was handed down, Fay's lawyer, Kent Barker of Nashua, asked that the original bail order be amended to allow his client to take custody of nine of the dogs that were seized on June 16. He also asked that Fay be able to find homes for the remaining dogs with friends or others who have experience with large-breed dogs.

Barker called Fay to the witness stand and questioned her about the second death of a dog while it was in the care of the humane society.

Two dogs have died of bloat, a gastric condition in which their stomach or intestines twist.

While the exact cause of the condition is not known, it is believed that overfeeding may be a contributing factor.

Fay testified that in her 38 years of dog ownership, she has never had a dog die of bloat and that when she saw symptoms of it she rushed the animal to surgery that typically costs $5,000.

She faulted the Humane Society for not recognizing the symptoms and not getting the dogs treatment, allowing them to "die alone in pain."

She also voiced concern that two litters of puppies were growing up in cages without proper socialization, maintaining that if they were in her care they would be romping in fields and sleeping on couches and in real beds.

Morgan told the judge Fay's description of the care the puppies would receive if returned to her did not match the testimony heard at trial. Granting her custody of the dogs would undermine the intent of the animal cruelty statute to protect animals, he said.

During her testimony, Fay said she has prepared a place to keep the nine dogs she asked for but would only disclose the location under seal to the court.

"There have been death threats, nasty phone calls, people in the driveway twice. It's never going to end," Fay said.

Following sentencing, Barker told the judge he planned to immediately file a motion in Superior Court seeking an emergency hearing to argue that the original bail conditions be amended to allow Fay to have custody of nine dogs that either are elderly or already have been spayed or neutered.

"It's a matter of when the jurisdiction of the court charges," Barker said when making similar arguments before sentencing.

Morgan said the state repeatedly tried to reach agreement with Fay over ownership of the dogs and that she had the opportunity to mitigate her liability, but wouldn't agree to surrender them.

When questioned as she left the courthouse about what dog she planned to pick, she said her choice would be an elderly Russian-born female afflicted with bad hips, as she was concerned that the dog was not receiving medication her veterinarian had prescribed to reduce her pain.

The Humane Society has said it has adoptive homes awaiting for all of the dogs if Fay would agree to give up ownership.

Crime Animals Ossipee Wolfeboro