KEENE — Cheshire Superior Court Judge David Ruoff sided with two veterinarians by allowing for a Labrador retriever seized from a Marlborough man’s home last year to be neutered.
Ruoff granted the state’s motion seeking to have the dog Mookie neutered, despite the dog’s owner, John Riggieri, objecting.
Riggieri, 58, is currently appealing his misdemeanor convictions for animal cruelty and neglect, and is technically still the owner of the 52 dogs and one cat taken from his property in July of 2018. All of the animals have since been placed in foster care by the Monadnock Humane Society.
Two veterinarians at the humane society recommended that Mookie be neutered as part of the treatment for the dog’s bladder ailments, according to court records. Prosecutors had to get the court’s permission before the procedure could be done because of Riggieri’s ownership rights.
Riggieri, who is reportedly philosophically opposed to spaying and neutering dogs, instead wanted the dog examined by a third veterinarian and treated with long-term antibiotics instead of being neutered, according to the court record.
The dogs were taken from Riggieri’s Marlborough home when he was served with an eviction notice. Police say the animals were living in filth in the home, and that some of the puppies kept in a bathtub were found to be injured, according to court records.
Riggieri initially tried to get help with the dogs in the months before they were taken, his attorney Keith Matthews said. Riggieri reached out to the Monadnock Humane Society to see about giving up some animals for adoption, but he ultimately refused to do it because the shelter wanted to have the dogs spayed and neutered, Matthews said.
As part of his sentence, Riggieri is blocked from keeping any animals as pets for the next 10 years. After that time he may have one cat or one dog, but that animal must be spayed or neutered, according to the sentence. When the sentence was imposed, Riggieri asked if he could instead keep a dog that had had a vasectomy. That request was denied.
So far, the Monadnock Humane Society has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars caring for the Labradors. Riggieri must also pay $78,000 in restitution to the organization as part of his sentence.