Alexandria police seize 22 German shepherd dogs from frigid barnBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent
January 02. 2018 9:30PM
ALEXANDRIA — The woman who recently lost 36 German shepherd dogs in two separate fires at her property in Bristol was charged in Alexandria on Tuesday with 22 counts of animal cruelty after police executed a search warrant and found that many dogs had been living in a frigidly cold barn.
Jennifer Choate was arrested Tuesday morning at the property she rents on Burns Hill Road, and the dogs, most of which appeared to be young, were seized by authorities and transferred to the NH Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Stratham.
Choate, who is described by the NHSPCA as a “backyard breeder” both in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, is to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 12 in Plymouth District Court, said Alexandria Police Chief Donald Sullivan.
The chief confirmed that this was the second time his agency has been to Choate’s rental property in three months.
In October, Alexandria police executed a search warrant and found multiple dogs in what appeared to be a kennel-breeding operation; likewise, Bristol police found the same when they executed a warrant at the single-family residence that Choate owns on Chestnut Street.
In neither instance, however, were the dogs in a situation that warranted their seizure.
That changed on Dec. 13 when a fire broke out at a cottage at the Chestnut Street property in which 27 dogs were killed and nine surviving dogs were taken to the NHSPCA. About three weeks earlier, on Nov. 22, fire had struck the main residence at the same address, killing nine dogs; some of the surviving dogs were relocated to the cottage.
Following the second Bristol fire, Choate, who previously operated Tarawood Kennels in Halifax, Mass., was charged by Bristol police with a single count of animal cruelty, according to published accounts. She is due in court Jan. 22.
Like the charge in Bristol, the charges in Alexandria are Class B misdemeanors, which means that if Choate is found guilty, she faces a fine, but no imprisonment.
Sullivan said his department’s charges are based on the fact that Choate allegedly neglected her dogs by placing them in an unheated space, providing insufficient shelter for the cold temperatures, which he said were around 11 degrees below zero on Tuesday morning.
Although the dogs were in a barn at the Alexandria property, “it was so wide open that the dogs couldn’t maintain their body heat” and where it was “cold enough to freeze water within an hour,” said Sullivan.
Choate has not voluntarily surrendered the dogs seized in Alexandria, and Sullivan did not immediately know her intent.