A Wolfeboro dog breeder found guilty of animal cruelty has been ordered to serve 90 days in jail.
However, if Christina Fay's attorneys can present a counseling program that the judge finds acceptable, that sentence will be reduced to 30 days.
Fay’s sentence was handed down on Friday in Carroll County Superior Court by Judge Amy Ignatius, who presided over a two-week trial that resulted in guilty verdicts on all 17 counts of animal cruelty.
Last June, 84 European Great Danes were seized from Fay’s 13,000-square foot estate in Wolfeboro. Prosecutors say the dogs were living in squalid conditions, with many in need of immediate medical care.
Fay was found guilty in a lower court last year, where she avoided jail time but was ordered to give up all but one of her dogs. She chose to appeal the ruling.
During Friday’s hearing in Superior Court, Judge Ignatius told Fay she had “no doubt” that she was a caring person and loved her dogs, but that there has be punishment for her actions.
Along with a jail sentence, Fay was ordered not to possess more than one pet at a time for the next five years.
“Time served in jail is an appropriate penalty for the types of suffering and cruelty these dogs endured,” said Lindsay Hamrick, state director with the Humane Society of the United States, which has been caring for the dogs while they remain held as evidence.
Fay declined to comment after the hearing. She did thank a range of supporters for attending, many wearing blue shirts with a Great Dane illustration on the front.
“Our argument is that no amount of jail time was going to be appropriate,” said her attorney Kent Barker. “And that was based on the fact that she has no prior record. It was a non-violent offense, and that generally someone convicted of a misdemeanor is not going to receive ‘stand committed’ time for the first offense.”
Barker says any decision on a potential appeal to the state Supreme Court will be made after the next sentencing hearing scheduled for June 14th, when the judge is expected to finalize Fay’s jail term. The court is also still mulling the dollar amount of restitution Fay will need to pay to the Humane Society and Wolfeboro Police Department.
It isn’t clear when the dogs may be adopted out to new homes. The judge requested the two sides attempt to work out a “re-homing” plan that places the dogs with suitable new owners.
The fate of a dog named Remus, also known as Bam Bam, is still up in the air. The state says the dog recently attacked and bit a caregiver, and now believes the animal is too dangerous to be adopted and should therefore be euthanized. An attorney for Fay, Jeremy Cohen, told the court he hopes to have a third party review the animal’s behavior and review evidence from the attack.