Woman waives arraignment on animal cruelty charges alleging she kept dogs in frigid Alexandria barnBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent
February 06. 2018 11:30PM
PLYMOUTH — A Bristol woman has waived arraignment and pleaded “not guilty” to 20 animal cruelty charges that allege she kept German shepherd dogs in an Alexandria barn with no heat.
Scheduled to appear on Feb. 12 in Plymouth District Court, Jennifer “Bobbi” Choate, 48, late last month entered a not guilty plea and waived arraignment to the charges brought by Alexandria police.
She previously filed not guilty pleas in the same court to five other animal cruelty charges in connection with the deaths of 29 German shepherd dogs in a fire at her home on Dec. 13.
Choate is to be in court on Feb. 15 for a hearing on the Bristol charges, at which time it is believed there may be a consolidation with the Alexandria charges.
Alexandria Police Chief Donald Sullivan said that on the morning of Jan. 2, his agency executed a search warrant at 143 Burns Hill Road at a property rented by Choate and found 22 dogs in a barn that was open to the elements.
Sullivan said the dogs, which were transferred to the American Humane Society, had been neglected by Choate because she placed them in an unheated space and provided insufficient shelter from the cold temperatures, which were around 11 degrees below zero at the time the search was conducted.
The complaints identify 20 dogs and allege that Choate failed to provide those dogs “with adequate care, food, and/or water, such that said dog’s health and well-being was adversely impacted.”
Sullivan told the Union Leader that although the dogs were in a barn, “it was so wide open that the dogs couldn’t maintain their body heat” and that it was so cold, that water froze “within an hour.”
Both Alexandria and Bristol police have said they were aware that Choate, who grew up in Bristol and formerly owned and operated Tarawood Kennels in Halifax, Mass., resumed her breeding activities in her hometown when she returned there in 2017.
Last October, both departments conducted searches of Choate’s Chestnut Street residence and of the Alexandria barn, and while finding many dogs at each, did not encounter anything that was actionable.
On Nov. 22, fire struck the main house at Choate’s home, killing seven dogs. She relocated some of the surviving dogs to a cottage on the property, but 27 of them perished in a fire in the cottage on Dec. 13.
Among the Bristol charges, one alleges that Choate left the 29 dogs “inside an unoccupied structure with heat lamps attached to the cages” that resulted in the fatal fire.
The other Bristol charges allege that Choate was guilty of animal cruelty by not providing adequate shelter to the dogs in the main house; for keeping seven dogs in metal cages in which the canines could not retain natural body heat; for not dealing with one dog’s ear infection; and for not providing medical care to a dog that resulted in the emergency amputation of a paw.
All of the charges filed against Choate by Alexandria and Bristol police are Class A misdemeanors, each punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.