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Judge: Wolfeboro Dog Owner Guilty of Animal Cruelty

Todd Bookman / NHPR

A Wolfeboro dog breeder has been found guilty of 10 counts of animal cruelty in a case that gained international attention.

In June, police raided the 13,000-square-foot home of Christina Fay, removing 75 European Great Danes from her care. Law enforcement described a squalid scene inside the home, with animals coated in their own waste, floors slick with urine, and many dogs in need of immediate medical care.

During a trial in Ossipee District Court, Fay worked to paint a very different picture, calling herself an attentive dog owner and fan of the breed. Fay testified that she spent an estimated $25,000 to $35,000 per month on the animals’ care, including staff, frequent trips to veterinarians, and an expensive diet of raw meats.

[Read NHPR's previous coverage of this story by clicking here.]

Fay told Judge Charles Greenhalgh that the scene police walked into on June 16th was simply the result of a “perfect storm,” with unseasonably high temperatures forcing her to keep the dogs inside, and a lack of support staff able to assist in the maintenance of the home.

In a 20-page ruling issued Tuesday, Greenhalgh, however, found that the conditions inside the home “constitute cruelty,” and did not meet the minimum standards of care for an animal. He says the defendants claim that she was able to maintain the health and wellbeing of the dogs without sufficient staff, as Fay attested in testimony, is “simply not credible.”

Credit Courtesy, Human Society
Investigators removing one of the dogs in June.

The judge ordered a sentencing hearing to be scheduled within 30 days.

Photos inside the Wolfeboro mansion released by police and the Humane Society quickly went viral, with images of large, elegant dogs seemingly left to fend for themselves inside a tastefully decorated estate.

The Humane Society, which was asked to assist in the raid, has been taking care of the dogs since their removal in June. The non-profit says it has incurred costs of over $500,000  for the care and treatment for the Great Danes.  

After the verdict’s release, lawyers for Fay announced she plans to appeal the ruling. In a statement, they write, “Mrs. Fay’s primary concern at present is the welfare of the dogs, who remain her property and have been held for six months post seizure as of this coming Saturday. Mrs. Fay looks forward to the next step in the process.”

This story has been updated.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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