84 Great Danes seized, police say Wolfeboro home was a puppy mill

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This is one of the dogs found in dirty cages at 149 Warren Sands Road, a home valued at $1.5 million where the De La Sang Monde Great Danes operated. Owner Christina Fay has been charged with animal cruelty. (Courtesy photo/Meredith Lee, HSUS)

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

WOLFEBORO — Animal rescuers and police officers, even the most veteran among them, were taken aback on Friday, when they entered a 14,000 square-foot mansion, at 149 Warren Sands Road, to find a scene of filth and neglect. By the end of the day, 84 Great Dane dogs – 75 from the home in Wolfeboro, a litter of nine more from a property in Bartlett – had been seized, and the owner, Christina "Tina" Fay, had been charged with two misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty. Calling her an operator of a puppy mill, police say more charges are likely to come.

Fay is alleged to be the operator of De La Sang Monde Great Danes, which claims on its website to be operated out of Maine. A phone number listed on the website wasn't answered, and the email listed on the site was no longer functional as of Saturday afternoon. The website's "Puppies" page offered one for sale, a 16-week-old female with full AKC registration for $2,200.

Wolfeboro police, as well as humane society representatives, described the operation at press conference held Saturday morning at the Wolfeboro Town Hall.

Fay had moved to Wolfeboro a few years ago. The home was assessed at $1.5 million and situated on a 53-acre lot. Neighbors had made prior complaints about the noise of barking dogs, but Fay had told town officials that she had 15 dogs that she kept as pets. But when people who had been inside the home began bringing their concerns to other agencies, such as the Pope Memorial SPCA in Concord, Police Chief Dean Rondeau said it became clear that there was more going on than someone with just a few more pets than usual.

"It was a home that was used as a commercial business. These were not pets. This was a commercial operation that had gone wrong," said Rondeau. "The conditions inside the home were simply appalling."

"I'm a combat veteran," Rondeau said, referring to a prior career in the Army. He made a point to enter the home prior to any of his officers. "I'm not ashamed to tell you that I was upset. I was absolutely sickened by what I saw... I can't describe it adequately, other than to use the words abhorrent and appalling ... I have never seen anything like this in my career in law enforcement or in my career in the military."

Tona McCarthy, director of cruelty investigations for the Pope Memorial Humane Society, said he also found the experience unsettling.

"I've got to tell you, in my years of experience, I've never seen a case like this place," he said, especially due to the size of the animals and the condition of the home. "It some point, I got choked up... It's terrible to see someone treat animals like this."

The sprawling home was filled with Great Danes, some in crates and kennels, others occupying rooms in the home. The floors were covered with feces and raw meat – the dogs were apparently being fed raw chicken, which wasn't being stored properly – and some of the animals had injuries or had infected and swollen eyes. The ammonia in the home was so strong that rescuers had leave the building on occasion when their eyes and throat began to burn.

Rondeau said that there were two other adults living in the home, in addition to Fay. Neither of those two have been identified or charged at this point.

Lindsay Hamrick, the New Hampshire state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said that none of the animals required emergency attention, but that a team of veterinarians, including Dr. Monique Kramer of Fryeburg, Maine, and Dr. Sarah Proctor of the Cocheco Valley Humane Society in Dover, were examining the dogs over the weekend to ascertain their need for medical care. She added that it's possible that some of the dogs are pregnant.

The investigation into possible animal cruelty began on May 8, said Rondeau, and although his officers determined fairly quickly that there was enough evidence to bring charges, the raid had to wait until the department could build, with considerable help from the Humane Society, a plan to rescue and care for such a large number of such a large breed of dogs. The Great Danes at De La Sang are of a European bloodline, and some were as big as 300 pounds and five feet tall.

"This was a huge undertaking – we can't just seize these dogs and have no plan to put them (somewhere)... The logistics piece was quite substantial, quite enormous," said Rondeau.

In addition to the Humane Society of the United States, Wolfeboro Police was aided by the town's Fire and Public Works Departments, Pope Memorial SPCA, Carroll County Sheriff Department, Bartlett and Barnstead police, State Police, the Conway Humane Society and Stewart's Ambulance.

It took about 14 hours on Friday to effect the operation. The Humane Society had brought two semi-trailers to transport all of the animals, but only the juveniles were small enough to fit in the trailers' crates. The fully-grown animals were removed from the property using horse trailers.

The dogs were all brought to a temporary shelter at an undisclosed location that the Humane Society of the United States set up specifically to care for these dogs. Because the animals are considered evidence, they will be held until the case against Fay is resolved. Depending on the outcome of the case, the dogs could then be made available for adoption. In the mean time, Hamrick said the dogs will be socialized with humans, offered a safe and clean place to live, and will be provided enrichment every day, including introducing them to collars and leashes for walks.

Caring for the dogs could cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars," she said. State law makes that care the responsibility of the town, she added, although the Humane Society has pledged to cover those costs. Those who wish to contribute toward the effort may make a contribution to: www.humanesociety.org/rescue.

Hamrick was critical of the state's laws regarding the regulation of breeders. Currently, a breeder doesn't have to register with the state unless he or she sells 50 or more puppies, or ten or more litters, per year.

"There's a difference between hoarding, which is a mental health issue, and a puppy mill situation. Puppy mills are run to make profit off of the animals," said Hamrick. She encouraged anyone interested in owning a pet to consider adopting from a shelter or rescue organization. If someone wants to purchase an animal from a breeder, she said they should insist on being able to visit both of the animal's parents, and to see the conditions it was living in.

"There's a perception that puppy mills happen in the midwest and the south," said Hamrick. "We estimate there are 10,000 puppy mills in the country, clearly there are some in New Hampshire. We are not immune to that."

The Humane Society of the United States operates tip line for information regarding puppy mills: 1-877-MILLTIP. If information leads to a conviction, Humane Society will offer a $5,000 reward.

– Thomas P. Caldwell also contributed to this story.

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A puppy is carried out by a rescue worker. Such puppies were advertised as being for sale for $2,200. (Courtesy photo/Meredith Lee, HSUS)

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This is the home at 149 Warren Sands Road in Wolfeboro where the dogs were found. (Courtesy photo)

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Dogs were living througout the eight-bedroom home, both loose and in cages. (Courtesy photo/Meredith Lee, HSUS)

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The dogs were taken to several different rescue organizations, in cages and even horse trailers due to their size. (Courtesy photo/Meredith Lee, HSUS)

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It’s the entertainment that counts for Michael Vincent Band

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL

LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Michael Vincent, whose band has been playing at the Laconia Roadhouse during Motorcycle Week and will perform at the Tower Hill Tavern tonight, said their sound has evolved enough that people who heard them play in Gilford a decade ago might not recognize them today.

Having formed the band with classmates Dan Mack and Dan Hewitt while still in high school, they honed their skills by playing along with the records of contemporary blues musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“It made me who I am now,” Vincent said.

After graduating from Gilford High School in 2009, Vincent told his parents he was taking the band to Memphis, known as the home of the blues.

“We ended up in Gulfport, Mississippi, where we experienced the delta sound and were able to play with others in the business,” Vincent said.

They learned to appreciate the older blues legends and incorporate some of those styles into their own performances. That impressed veteran bluesman Wayne Sharp, whose original Sharpshooters band from 1980 included “Jaimo” Johnson and Lamar Williams, formerly of the Allman Brothers Band.

“These guys do more blues than many of those in the blues profession,” Sharp said of the Michael Vincent Band. “They are so focused on the real music, and they’re carrying it on, that I want these guys to have a chance.”

Sharp accompanied the Michael Vincent Band to Laconia Motorcycle Week last year, and he rejoined them for this year’s tour.

After a 50-year career in the blues, Sharp said he doesn’t mind playing to smaller audiences for less pay. “It’s awesome to really, truly, be involved with these guys,” he said.

Sharp plays the Hammond B-3 organ, a staple in music until the advent of synthesizers, and nothing can match its sound, he said. For that reason, the band members found themselves manually hoisting a 500-plus-pound organ onto the Roadhouse stage without a ramp for their performances there.

Mack, who serves as manager as well as playing bass, said the band is willing to go practically anywhere as they work to build up a following. After Motorcycle Week, they will be performing in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Music is such a great thing, but people forget about what it takes to put it on,” he said.

Sharp agreed. “We do this for a living. This isn’t a hobby, it’s our entire lives.”

Vincent said the band is constantly working to get to the next level, and it relies upon feedback from the crowds.

“We want to play to anybody who will listen,” he said, adding that gauging an audience’s reaction is important.

“One night I was singing and someone came up to me and told me, ‘You can’t sing,’” he recalled. “Sometimes it takes something like that to let you know what you need to work on.”

Their ability to survive on the road is aided by their longstanding friendship, Mack said, noting that they have known each since fourth grade. They also have the strong support of their parents.

Vincent’s father served as their first manager, booking them at local venues in the Lakes Region. Through those gigs, the band started meeting the right people to help them go further.

“When you play with better and better players, it makes you want to be like that,” Vincent said.

They met Sharp through his son, whom they ran into at a store in their neighborhood. At first, they filed his name away, but later they contacted him and established a relationship.
“People like Wayne are inspirational,” Vincent said. “He’s a road dog — he shows it’s possible to do.”

“Sometimes you feel like a rock star,” Sharp said, “but it’s hard to stay up there.”

Vincent said constant practice is important, as well as learning to pace yourself. In the morning, when he has nothing to do, he’ll pick up his guitar and play it.

In addition to polishing his guitar skills, he has incorporated elements of showmanship, including playing his guitar with his teeth and placing it behind his head while continuing the playing.

“At the end of the day, it’s showmanship,” Mack said.

Vincent said his next goal is “to make an album I’m proud of — and I’m the hardest one to please.”

“This is the toughest thing to do,” he said of his career choice. “We just keep truckin’ on.”

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The Michael Vincent Band, featuring Vincent on lead guitar and vocals, Dan Mack on bass, and Dan Hewitt on drums, is being joined by veteran bluesman Wayne Sharp (inset) on organ for their Motorcycle Week performances. Here they perform at the Laconia Roadhouse on Thursday. They will be playing tonight at the Tower Hill Tavern on Lakeside Avenue in The Weirs. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Bass player Dan Mack performs with the Michael Vincent Band at the Laconia Roadhouse on Thursday.

 

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
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Boat Rentals a Popular Option on Lake Winnipesaukee

LACONIA — Renting a boat has become a popular option for those looking to spend some time on Lake Winnipesaukee and is fueling the growth of boat rentals as a supplemental line of business for local marinas.

"We're doing great,but there aren't enough boats to go around. Just about all the marinas around the lake are renting boats these days, but there's still room for growth,” said Shawn Minor, who manages the rental business at Irwin Marine, which has locations in Lakeport and Alton Bay and began renting boats in 2011.

Getting involved was a no-brainer. It was a good business move,” said Minor, who says he hast 10 boats available for rental in Lakeport, five bow riders and five pontoon boats.

It's basically an eight-week season, from mid-June to mid-August. During that time practically all of our boats are rented, especially for weekends. Our rental calendar starts filling up right after people book a place on the lake early in the year. The first thing they do after getting a reservation is to call and make sure they have a rental boat for their vacation,”

He says that this year six of the 10 rental boats are new models this year and all of the boats are 2016 models or newer. “We sell off the used boats after a year or two and pride ourselves on having the newest boat rentals on the lake,” said Minor.

Irwin Marine was tempted to enter the rental business after seeing the success enjoyed by Anchor Marine Corporation, which has been renting boats on Lake Winnipesaukee for 34 years. The business, owned by Bob Andrews, spent most of that time at Weirs Beach, before moving in to the Paugus Bay Marina location at 1258 Union Ave. in Laconia.

Anchor Marine has rentals available in increments as small as two hours, for less than $200, up to a week for less than $2,000. About half of his business is for clients who rent a boat for a week.

Kelsey Doherty, manager at Anchor Marine, says the company has a fleet of 23 boats, 10 of which are pontoon boats, and has a diverse clientele which includes families as well as retirees.

Don't have a boater education certificate? Anchor Marine is a state licensed test location and can print out a temporary certification, good for 14 days.

Both Anchor and Irwin Marine can administer a 25-question, computer-based state test that, if passed, will grant someone a temporary boating certificate. The test taker must answer at least 20 of the questions correctly; if not, he or she has to wait at least 24 hours before a re-take.

Doherty said that 30 to 40 percent of their short-term rentals are to people who don't want to actually drive the boat and are willing to pay $25 an hour to hire a driver. “We have five captains on call and that's become a popular service for us, especially for people having some kind of celebration."

Charity Littlefield of Shep Brown's Boat Basin on Meredith Neck offers some advice to those looking for a boat to rent.

She recommends those who aren't experienced boaters find a boat rental that comes with a licensed captain. And she points out that those renting a boat that is over 25 horsepower will need a valid New Hampshire boating certificate or equivalent.

Littlefield says that Shep Brown's is pet friendly and allows renters to take their pets on board with them.

Boat rental places include:

Andrews Marine Service, Minge Cove Marina, Alton Bay, 875-0654

Channel Marine, Weirs Beach, 366-4801 or (888)265-0280

Fay's Boat Yard, Gilford, 293-8000

Glendale Marine Ltd, Gilford, 293-2007

Goodhue & Hawkins, Wolfeboro, 569-2371

Irwin Marine, Paugus Bay, Laconia, 524-6661

Lake Side Boat Rentals, Alton Bay, 875-5005

Melvin Village Marina, Inc., Melvin Village, 544-3583

Meredith Marina, Meredith, 279-7921

Shep Brown's Boat Basin, Meredith, 279-4573 or (866)350-7437

Thurston's Marina, Weirs Beach, 366-4811 or (800)366-4006

Trexler's Marina, Moultonborough, 253-7315

Winnisquam Marine, Belmont, 524-8380

Y Landing, Meredith, 279-5050

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Cole Capano on board one of the pontoon boats at Anchor Marine on Paugus Bay. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Roger Amsden
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