Prosecutor Tim Morgan asks witness Marilyn Kelly questions yesterday during the opening of the Christina Fay animal cruelty case. (Daymond Steer/Conway Daily Sun)
By DAYMOND STEER, THE CONWAY DAILY SUN
OSSIPEE — Witnesses for the prosecution on the first day of Christina Fay’s animal cruelty trial yesterday recalled working in a mansion filled with feces and urine from dozens of Great Dane dogs in Fay’s care.
In June, police and members of the Humane Society of the United States seized 84 Great Dane dogs from locations in Wolfeboro and Bartlett. The Conway Area Humane Society received another nine prior to the seizure.
Fay, 59, of Wolfeboro was initially charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect for allegedly keeping the Wolfeboro dogs in squalid conditions and denying them adequate food and drink. More charges were added since then, and now Fay faces about a dozen.
At an Oct. 3 hearing, Circuit Judge Charles Greenhalgh denied numerous motions by Fay’s attorneys — Kent Barker of Winer and Bennett and James P. Cowles of Walker and Varney — to allow Fay’s dogs, now under the care of HSUS at a secret location, to be rehomed.
But on Monday, Greenhalgh granted a defense motion to have Dr. Samantha Moffitt, a Virginia veterinarian, examine the dogs.
When the bench trial started at around 1:15 p.m. Monday, the first witness for the prosecution was Annie-Rose Newell, a 17-year-old who worked for Fay for a day last May. She recalled an “overwhelming” smell of trash, urine and feces. She said the floors were so slick with excrement it was like an ice rink.
Newell was surprised the conditions were so appalling as the house itself was “ostentatious,” she said.
“It was shocking. It was definitely something I didn’t expect, and I felt horrible for the dogs having to live in those conditions,” said Newell, adding that Fay didn’t appear to be bothered by the conditions in the home.
Newell said she observed the dogs would even jump on Fay’s bed with their dirty feet.
“Everything that was on the floor was being transferred onto her bed,” said Newell.
She took about a dozen photos inside the house and turned them over to authorities. The girl said that despite working on a farm prior to going to Fay’s, the dogs’ plight caused her to cry.
Despite the odors, Fay and the other workers were able to eat lunch in the kitchen, said Newell, while she was too disturbed by what she saw to eat.
Fay paid Newell $80 for her work.
The second witness was Marilyn Kelly, who worked for Fay for a month between early May and early June. Kelly lived in an apartment in the home.
Kelly said her main job was to clean but it was impossible to keep up with the mess. She said Fay kept promising to hire more workers.
“I felt the situation was out of control,” said Kelly.
Kelly approached Fay’s veterinarian, Kate Battenfelder of True North Veterinary Hospital in Bartlett, in May. Kelly said Battenfelder and her staff did “nothing to help” but agreed Fay was probably in over her head with the number of dogs being kept in the home, which Kelly estimated to be around 90.
“They waited until I left, called Ms. Fay and told her everything I said, and that created quite a scene when I got back,” said Kelly, who described Fay as “furious” with her.
Kelly said Fay begged her not to go to the authorities as she was trying to hire more staff.
Kelly said she took nine dogs from Fay and tried to give them to friends but couldn’t because the dogs had “health conditions,” such as mouth warts, that are contagious.
She said the dogs also were underweight.
Kelly told prosecutor Tim Morgan that the dogs needed to be checked out medically before they could be rehomed and at that point, the dogs’ medical conditions became better known.
Under cross-examination, Cowles asked Kelly to go over a series of text messages between Fay and herself. In the messages, Fay, who was suffering from a hurt knee, was asking Kelly for help but Kelly said she was unavailable because she was injured, too.
Kelly said she couldn’t help Fay because she hurt her back “while lifting a deceased dog” in the basement. Kelly told Fay that because of injury she would need physical therapy and since that she was unable to work, she would move out the apartment by the following weekend.
Cowles pointed out that in the messages, Fay told Kelly to take her time and that Fay wished Kelly the best.
“That doesn’t sound like someone who had a huge blowout,” said Cowles.
When the trial resumes Wednesday, lead officer Michael Strauch of Wolfeboro Police, who also testified Monday, will return to the stand.
Strauch was the officer who arrested Fay on the day of the raid in June.
On Monday, Strauch said when Fay came to the door that day, she was covered in dog feces. She told him she knew the situation “looked bad.”
Greenhalgh said that the court on Wednesday will examine a motion to quash a subpoena of Battenfelder.
Marilyn Kelly testified that she rented an apartment in Fay’s home and tried to help care for the dogs. (Daymond Steer/Conway Daily Sun)
Annie-Rose Newell testified yesterday about the conditions of the Wolfeboro home where she worked for one day. She said she was so disturbed by the scene she cried and could not eat. (Daymond Steer/Conway Daily Sun)