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Woman in cruelty case ordered to post $70,000 bond for care of dogs

Union Leader Correspondent

August 28. 2018 9:27AM
Jennifer Choate, 49, of Bristol, has appealed her conviction on 29 counts of animal cruelty and has appealed and is awaiting a jury trial now scheduled for November. (Bea Lewis/Correspondent)

This dog lost the top of its ear to frostbite according to a veterinarian working with the N.H. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (Courtesy Photo/NHSPCA)

NORTH HAVERHILL — A woman awaiting a jury trial appeal for her conviction on 29 counts of animal cruelty has been ordered to post a $70,000 bond because she has refused to allow her dogs to be adopted.

Jennifer Choate, 49, 90 Chestnut St., Bristol, had initially pleaded not guilty to 24 counts of animal cruelty occurring at 143 Burns Hill Road, on Jan. 2, 2018, and five counts of cruelty at her home address on Dec. 13, 2017.

But at a bench trial in July, Judge Gerard J. Boyle entered a guilty finding on 29 Class A misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, which would allow her to have a jury trial and stay the imposed sentence.

A bail hearing scheduled for Monday was cancelled after defense attorney Charles Keefe of Nashua filed a $250 personal recognizance bond and a waiver of extradition.

Conditions of Choate’s release include that she resides at 90 Chestnut St., Bristol, not travel outside the state, refrain from possessing a firearm, or weapons, or the excessive use of alcohol or any controlled drugs.

Grafton County Superior Court Judge Lawrence MacLeod also approved granting the SPCA intervenor status in the case.

Their attorney, Christopher Poulin of Manchester, asserts that despite repeated requests Choate has refused to surrender the animals, barring the animal welfare group from adopting them into appropriate homes and stopping the escalating expenses.

Judge MacLeod ordered Choate to post a $70,000 bond for care of the animals. The judge also granted permanent custody of the dogs to the NHSPCA and ordered Choate to pay all past, present and future costs they incurred in caring for the animals but stayed the payments, pending the outcome of the appeal.

In July at her bench trial, Judge Gerard Boyle handed down identical sentences of 12 months in jail, with six months suspended on each count to be served concurrently and forfeiture of all seized animals to the N.H. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

She was also ordered to repay the cost of housing and treating the seized animals, which totaled $206,960.47 as of July 19.

A final pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 31 at 9 a.m. Jury selection is set for Nov. 6, with the trial to follow.

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