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In Wake of Great Dane Case, N.H. Lawmakers Seek to Tighten Commercial Breeding Rules

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

After a high profile case of animal cruelty, New Hampshire lawmakers are working on legislation to tighten commercial breeding regulations.

The case of Christina Fay and her 75 European Great Danes, which were removed from her care and ordered permanently surrendered (except for one) by a judge this month, is sparking questions about how many is too many dogs, and who should pay for their care when the state seizes animals in suspected cruelty cases.

Republican State Senator Jeb Bradley, who represents Wolfeboro, where Fay lived, is sponsoring a bill that would address both issues.

“We have somewhat lax laws here,” says Bradley. The legislation would tighten the rules for what constitutes a commercial breeder. Advocates say the current standard--anyone who sells more than 10 litters of puppies per year--are less restrictive than neighboring states and puts animals at risk.

The legislation would also allow a municipality to request from a judge that the owner of seized animals be forced to pay for their care even before a trial is complete.

“It would provide an opportunity for a judge to order a defendant to pay costs on a monthly basis toward the care of animals that are being held,” says Lindsay Hamrick with the Humane Society, who is working with Sen. Bradley on the bill.

In the case of Christina Fay, the Humane Society has racked up bills approaching $800,000 for the care and boarding of the dogs during the past six months. After finding her guilty on ten counts of animal cruelty, a judge has ordered Fay to pay the Humane Society full restitution.

Earlier this summer, Governor Chris Sununu said he would support the new regulations.

“Because whether it is dogs or cats or bears, we do have a responsibility,” he told a crowd during an event in Wolfeboro.

Text of the bill hasn’t yet been finalized. 

(This post 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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