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Wolfeboro Great Dane Breeder Sentenced, But The Story's Far From Over

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The story of Christina Fay and her dogs is a story of sharp contrasts. There is the $1.5 million dollar mansion where Fay lived with dozens of European Great Danes.

Fay compared these big, valuable dogs to works of art, her “Rembrandts and Van Goghs.” She painted herself as a high-end breeder, set on improving the bloodline.

And then, there is what police found when they raided her home in June. The dogs--at least 75 of them--were living in squalid conditions, coated in their own waste, with many in need of immediate medical attention.

After a week-long trial that garnered international media attention, Fay was found guilty earlier this month on 10 counts of animal cruelty. During Thursday’s sentencing hearing in Ossipee District Court, prosecutors argued that Fay had shown “callous disregard” for the care of these dogs. They asked a judge for jail time, but that was not awarded.

Instead Judge Charles Greenhalgh gave Fay a suspended sentence. But he also ordered that she permanently surrender all but one of the dogs. Fay will get to choose one, and only one, to keep as a pet.

She was also slapped with a bill for nearly $800,000--the total cost of caring for the dogs while they’ve been in the state’s custody.

In the hallway afterward, Fay was composed but defiant before a scrum of reporters.

“It is all turned into sort of a salacious tabloid story which is so inappropriate to begin with,” said Fay outside of the courtroom. “There are so many untruths out there, I was vilified and convicted within moments of when this story broke.”

She added, “My dogs are suffering, and that is something I live with every day.”

During the trial, Fay repeatedly said the unsanitary condition of her home was the result of a “perfect storm” caused by the resignation of most of her assistants, as well as a knee injury, which made it hard for her to get around the large house.

She said the case against her was “overblown, untrue, and profoundly unfair.”

“For what my dogs are going through, it is unconscionable, and utterly unacceptable. So, I ask you all to just pray for my dogs,” Fay told reporters.

Those dogs, for now, will remain in the care of the Humane Society, where they have lived since the June 16th raid.

Fay and her lawyers say they will immediately appeal the verdict in the case, which could trigger a new trial in Superior Court. While that process plays out, Lindsay Hamrick with the Humane Society says the dogs must remain in temporary shelters, and can’t be adopted out to permanent homes. That’s not the outcome anybody wanted.

“Unfortunately, because the defendant is planning to appeal and pay a full bond, these dogs are going to be stuck through the appeal process,” said Hamrick. “Unfortunately, we can’t be surprised that she continues to not make decisions that are in the best interest of these dogs.”

And so the dogs remain in limbo, Christina Fay remains in a legal battle, and a complex story continues on.

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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