By LLOYD JONES, CONWAY DAILY SUN
CONWAY — Christina Fay, the Wolfeboro woman charged in an animal cruelty case involving 84 Great Danes, is seeking an injunction to prevent any further surgeries on the dogs taken in June by law enforcement and the U.S. Humane Society and for her pets to be rehomed before her October trial.
In addition, according to a press release issued Thursday by attorney Kent M. Barker of Winer and Bennett LLP of Nashua, Fay “asserts that her dogs were seized, not rescued, and that the true facts of the case will come to light in court.”
Barker, along with attorney James. P. Cowles of Walker & Varney PC of Wolfeboro, filed pleadings in both Carroll County Superior Court and Ossipee District Court on Thursday.
Fay is requesting expedited hearings in both courts as well as a speedy trial.
“She has asserted her right for a speedy trial,” Cowles said by phone Friday afternoon, and added that his client is “trying to get more information on where the dogs are at. We have no idea where they are.”
A special hearing is scheduled in Carroll County Superior Court on Aug. 30 at 1 p.m.
“The bottom line is: The dogs were seized, not rescued,” Cowles said. “The legitimacy of the seizures are in question.”
In paperwork filed Thursday, Fay “asserts her rights to return, placement or rehousing of the Great Danes pursuant to her ownership rights. She submits that assurances of the adequate health care and treatment of the dogs, including but not limited to the posting of a bond, would be agreeable to her.”
After authorities removed the dogs from a breeding operation at locations in Wolfeboro and Bartlett, Fay, 59, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect.
"There have been only two complaints,” Cowles said. “The state had repeatedly alluded to there being more charges. Attorney Barker and I would like to see them come forward.”
According to police reports, the dogs in the Wolfeboro mansion were kept in squalid, unsanitary conditions. Nine dogs taken from Wolfeboro in the weeks leading up to the seizure were taken to Conway Area Humane Society.
Since that time, one of the Great Danes gave birth to three puppies. That dog, which veterinarians said had had multiple litters, was spayed following a Caesarean section to deliver the pups.
On June 29, another of the Great Danes at the Conway shelter was on the operating table when 6-month-old Mufassa had to have a foreign object removed from his stomach.
Other animals needed eye surgery, the Humane Society said.
Those 16 dogs — being taken care of by the local branch of The Humane Society of the United States at an undisclosed location and the Conway Area Humane Society — suffer from eyelid protrusions known as "cherry eye," and if left untreated will go blind, according to USHS' Lindsay Hamrick, quoting Portsmouth vet Dr. Alison Clode.
Hamrick said June 30 that eight of the Great Danes "most at risk" of going blind would be operated on first, and six have been.
“We were not told ahead of time,” Barker told The Concord Monitor, referencing the eye surgeries. “The dogs remain her property.”
“My client didn’t consent to any surgeries,” Cowles said.
The case had been scheduled to go to trial Aug. 23, but Fay’s legal counsel (Cowles) asked for a later date as not all of the legal team could be present on the original date.
"While we are only at the early stages of this matter, counsel for the parties estimate this matter will require a full-day hearing,” wrote Cowles in his motion. “Accordingly, a continuance of the Aug. 23, 2017, trial is respectfully requested to a date certain that can accommodate a full-day trial."
Cowles added that Wolfeboro police prosecutor Tim Morgan agreed to continue the case.
That motion was filed June 29.
Morgan, who could not be reached for comment Friday, filed the state’s objection to the ex-parte complaint on Thursday. In it, he stated the confiscated dogs “are being held as evidence in the case.”
He added: “Veterinarians retained by (the U.S. Humane Society) have opined that the Great Dane dogs are suffering from a number of serious maladies and have begun appropriate treatment for those maladies. ... Bail conditions prohibit Christina Fay from acquiring dogs during the pendency of the Cruelty to Animals case. ... A full understanding of the issues to be addressed at this stage of the proceedings can best be gained through a hearing at which witnesses are produced to testify.”
Fay's trial is currently scheduled for Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. at the circuit court at 96 Water Village Road, Ossipee.
Paperwork from Clerk of Court Elaine J. Lowe says three hours were allotted for the trial.
A delay in the trial meant a delay in 75 dogs being adopted.
Conway has received more than 300 adoption requests.
The dogs being cared for by the U.S. Humane Society are being held as evidence in the lawsuit against Fay.
Hamrick said it took a ton of logistics to keep the 75 dogs together. Given the size of the animals and the volume of dogs, placing them in traditional animal shelters wasn't a viable option.
"We did the math," Hamrick said. "We could have maybe placed 40 of them in the shelters, but they had to be medically quarantined and that would have shut the shelters down (from taking any other animals for a considerable amount of time)."
Barker told The Concord Monitor that Fay has homes for the dogs. “She has a list of homes that dogs could be placed in — all homes that are good homes that could be investigated and checked out by the state,” he said.
Hamrick said an emergency shelter was shipped to New Hampshire and set up in an open space.
"It's not just cleaning and medical. We have a behavioral program and provide enrichment by getting them out every day. We had some pretty scared dogs for a while, but now that we've been around them and gotten into a routine, they're coming out of their shells."
Hamrick said each day the dogs go through 132 pounds of food, costing roughly $40. She projects it will cost up to a $500,000 to care for the dogs.
If the court finds Fay guilty, she could be ordered to pay restitution, which means she would have to cover that cost, plus any medical bills.
But Hamrick said that "in most cruelty cases, only 3 percent is ever recouped, on average. If a place like Conway (Area Humane Society) had to absorb $500,000, it might mean closing the doors."
Reporter Daymond Steer and The Concord Monitor contributed to this story.
Great Dane Ellie nurses her three pups, born in late June. (File photo)
- Written by Ginger Kozlowski
- Category: Local News
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