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Keep her Great Danes? Fay may need to pay $148k

Sunday News Correspondent

December 16. 2017 10:44PM

Christina Fay, 59, seen testifying during her trial. (Bea Lewis/Sunday News Correspondent)

OSSIPEE - Christina Fay, who was found guilty Dec. 11 of animal cruelty and neglect, must post a bond for $148,000 if she wants to retain an ownership interest in the 74 Great Danes that were seized from her Wolfeboro home in a surprise raid June 16.

Attorney Jeffrey Philpot of Laconia, who represents the New Hampshire Humane Society, is no stranger to animal cruelty cases. As a result of Fay's planned appeal, he said, state law requires that a bond or other security of $2,000 be posted for each animal to help offset costs incurred for their board and care until the case is finally resolved.

It will take at least six months, and more likely a year for the case to advance to a jury trial in Superior Court, according to Philpot.

"It's like a slow-motion car crash. It just gets worse and worse. It affects the dogs, her, the municipality and the Humane Society of the United States," he said.

Were a jury to convict Fay, state law prescribes that the costs incurred for the care of the animals during the pendency of the appeal is to be paid from the posted security. HSUS has already spent more than $478,000 in caring for the dogs.

State law further contains a provision that makes anyone convicted of cruelty liable for the cost of boarding and treating the animals while the case remains pending.

"It's sad that no one has approached this from the mental health issue. There is some loss or deficit in her life, that no one has addressed," said Philpot.

In 2002, Philpot both advised and defended the Laconia animal welfare agency after authorities raided a Center Harbor property on Route 3 that straddled the Holderness town line. The authorities seized some 120 cats and 30 dogs living in squalid conditions alongside school-age children. Other animals including chickens, rabbits, cattle and two horses were also taken from the property, in a case that grabbed headlines for months and ultimately resulted in convictions and the children being placed in state custody.

The huge influx of animals taxed the resources and staff at the Laconia shelter, and, Philpot recounted, they were able to reach an agreement with the court allowing some of the dogs and cats to be placed in temporary foster homes until the case was resolved.

Judge Charles Greenhalgh, presiding justice in the 3rd Circuit District Division Ossipee Court, will sentence Christina Fay on Dec. 21 and also decide the fate of the 74 Great Danes seized from her Wolfeboro home in a raid in June. (Bea Lewis/Sunday News Correspondent)

"It's tough to find people willing to foster animals, knowing that they'll have to give them back," he said.

Kent Barker of Nashua, one of two lawyers representing Fay, has said he plans to argue during Thursday's sentencing hearing that the dogs that remain in the custody of the Humane Society be rehomed pending appeal, and that some be returned to Fay. He did not return calls seeking comment.

During the trial, Barker argued that Fay spent thousands of dollars on veterinary care and a raw-meat and vitamin supplemented diet to insure her dogs' health. He asserted that the raid was staged to occur at a time when the dogs had been inside overnight, and that photos were taken late in the afternoon when even more animal waste had accumulated.

Barker claimed the Humane Society sensationalized the case in the media with the goal of spurring donations and repeatedly focused on the four dogs that died while in the animal welfare organization's care.

When Fay, 59, took the witness stand in her own defense, she likened her dogs to fine art and expressed a desire to be the preeminent collector of European Great Danes in the U.S. She said an April knee injury reduced her mobility, and that her inability to hire more kennel help contributed to what Judge Charles Greenhalgh ultimately ruled constituted cruelty and neglect.

Philpot believes an appropriate resolution to the Wolfeboro case would be for the judge to sentence Fay to jail, but suspend it, conditioned upon a mental health evaluation and compliance with recommended therapy.

"Sometimes we need to fix people instead of punish them," said Philpot, explaining that the threat of jail time would provide the needed incentive for Fay to meaningfully participate in mental health therapy.

While animal cruelty/hoarding cases typically involve lower income people "a mobile home with 40 cats," Philpot said the juxtaposition of Fay's apparent wealth and mansion home makes the case even more unusual. 

"She far exceeded her ability to care for the number of dogs that she had. It should be obvious that she needs a check-up from the neck-up," he said.

"The life lesson here is that just because you have money, (that) doesn't mean everything is good."

Courts Crime Animals Wolfeboro

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