Superior Court judge punts case to circuit court
By DAYMOND STEER, CONWAY DAILY SUN
OSSIPEE — Carroll County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius on Wednesday declined to wade into a civil case involving Wolfeboro resident Christina Fay, who is seeking to gain back control of the dozens of Great Dane dogs that were seized by authorities earlier this year.
In June, police and members of the Humane Society of the United States 84 dogs from locations in Wolfeboro and Bartlett.
Fay, 59, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect for allegedly keeping the dogs in squalid conditions.
Another nine dogs were taken to the Conway Area Humane Society before the raid.
The rest of the dogs are being kept in an undisclosed location, held as evidence by the Humane Society of the United States.
Fay filed pleadings in both Superior Court and Ossipee District Court on Aug. 10 to try to gain more control over her dogs. Her attorneys said she is trying to find out where the dogs are.
In the pleadings, she asserted her "ownership rights" over the animals.
Fay's attorneys, Kent M. Barker of Winer and Bennett LLP of Nashua and James. P. Cowles of Walker & Varney PC of Wolfeboro, went before Ignatius on Wednesday, arguing that Fay should be given more control over and more information about the dogs.
Seated in the gallery were over a dozen people who came to support the humane societies. Several others also apparently came to support Fay.
The attorneys said that although the animals belong to Fay, she's getting no medical reports on their care . They added that the Humane Society of the United States has allowed six dogs to undergo operations for a condition called cherry eye without telling Fay, who learned about the surgeries through the media. They also hoped that the court would allow her to rehome some of the dogs.
"We found out that two dogs died since they have been in the care of the Humane Society of the United States," said Barker. "We also learned the day of the seizure all of the dogs were vaccinated. They have already been vaccinated. Whether that is harmful to them, we don't know."
Representing the town of Wolfeboro, attorney Simon Brown of Preti Flaherty of Concord, said that Superior Court was the wrong jurisdiction in which to seek the relief Fay wants. He said Ignatius should dismiss the case.
"There is no reason whatsoever for the plaintiff (Fay) to be allowed to leapfrog from District Court to a higher court to argue these issues," said Brown, adding that she could have been allowed to file a pleading in the other court. "I don't think this court has jurisdiction."
During the hearing, Barker said Gov. Chris Sununu recently held a press conference in Wolfeboro and that one of Fay's dogs was "put on display" in order to raise money for the Humane Society.
"That would be like my car being an exhibit in a criminal case and the state took it to the local dealer," said Barker.
Ignatius agreed that this case is "unusual."
After about 30 minutes, the judge said she mostly sided with Brown.
"I don't see why it's appropriate at this point to be at the Superior Court," said Ignatius, though she stopped short of dismissing Fay's civil case against the town.
Barker asked the judge for an injunction to prevent further unauthorized surgeries on the dogs, but Ignatius said she didn't think that is an issue for Superior Court.
Ignatius said she would hold the motion to dismiss in abeyance pending further action in the circuit court, which will next hear Fay's case Sept. 6.
Fay's trial is scheduled in October in circuit court, but that could change at the Sept. 6 hearing.
In a post-hearing interview, Barker said everyone on Fay's team is deeply concerned about the animals.
Cowles said that according to media reports, two puppies have died and a third ate something that caused an obstruction.
Approached outside court, Lindsay Hamrick of the Humane Society of the United States declined to comment about whether any dogs had died but did say the dogs held by the Humane Society were getting professional care. She said the dogs' conditions were improving.
"I can't speak to those situations," said Hamrick when asked if any dogs died. "All I can say is that any decisions that were made about the medical care of those animals is made under the direction of veterinary professionals."
She also said that the Humane Society of the United States is only a support agency and Wolfeboro Police Department would be the agency responsible for sharing information about the dogs with Fay.
Deb Cameron of the Conway Area Humane Society said that most of the Great Danes that had been at the shelter have been adopted out and that only two remain under their care.
"All the others went home," said Cameron.
Christina Fay leaves Carroll County Superior Court with her attorney, Kent M. Barker of Winer and Bennett LLP of Nashua, after Wednesday’s hearing in the civil case she brought against the town of Wolfeboro following the seizure of 84 Great Danes from her possession. (Daymond Steer/Conway Daily Sun)
- Written by Ginger Kozlowski
- Category: Local News
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