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Attorney: Christina Fay, convicted of animal cruelty, isn’t done appealing

  • Christina Fay of Wolfeboro appears in District Court at the Carroll County Superior Courthouse in Ossipee on Sept. 6, 2017. Fay was charged in June with abusing 84 Great Danes. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

  • Christina Fay (center) of Wolfeboro appears in District Court with her attorney Kent Barker at the Carroll County Superior Courthouse in Ossipee on Sept. 6, 2017. Fay was charged in June with abusing 84 Great Danes. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file

  • James Cowles (left) and Kent Barker, defense attorneys for Christina Fay of Wolfeboro, speak to reporters following an appearance in District Court at the Carroll County Superior Courthouse in Ossipee on Sept. 6, 2017. Fay was charged in June with abusing 84 Great Danes. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file



Monitor staff
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christina Fay will head back to Ossipee’s district court next Thursday, 10 days after her conviction on 10 charges of animal cruelty and neglect, hoping she can determine what happens to 74 Great Danes taken from her Wolfeboro home in a surprise raid six months ago.

That will be up to Judge Charles Greenhalgh, who has total authority on where the dogs should live now that he’s ruled on her guilt. Meanwhile, one thing seems clear: The bizarre case about the woman whose giant house was filled with dozens of giant dogs is far from over.

“The legal process anticipated that it will continue on because she has the right to appeal,” said Kent Barker of Nashua, one of Fay’s attorneys during the six-day trial. “But the question of keeping the dogs in current status quo is not palatable, not an option. Something has got to be done to rehome them, and that is an issue we intend to present to the court when we have the sentencing hearing.”

That will happen Dec. 21, and ideally Fay would want at least some of her dogs returned to her during the appeals process. Barker said he and co-counsel Jim Cowles are researching cases outside the state in which animals were returned to their owners following a guilty verdict on charges of cruelty.

Another option Barker said Fay is seeking would be housing the dogs with people whom she trusts and has already documented as possible caretakers.

“Our proposal is going to be that they remain Mrs. Fay’s property,” Barker said. “She wants to rehome them, and she wants to say who should be able to adopt the dogs. She would also like bail amended so she can have some of the dogs back.”

Barker argued in court that Fay spent thousands of dollars in medical care and top-quality food to insure her dogs’ health. He said the charges were overblown through photos that were taken out of context, that the Humane Society of the United States exaggerated the problem and got involved for fundraising purposes, and that four dogs died after they’d been taken from Fay’s home and brought to a Conway shelter and other undisclosed locations.

“There has not been a showing that she’s incapable of caring for these animals,” Barker insisted. “In fact, I would submit that there was lots of evidence presented at trial that she was very competent in caring for those dogs, and that’s not to comment on the court’s final decision, which is for another day.”

The dogs were found in Fay’s home suffering from a variety of diseases. Several rooms were covered in feces and urine, which contributed to the dogs’s illnesses, the state contended during the trial.

Barker said Fay’s worst fear is the judge will choose to leave the dogs where they are – at unnamed shelters – during the appeals process, which could take six months. He noted that the defense tried to convince the judge in October to release the dogs into Fay’s custody or allow them to stay with people of her choosing during the trial, but Greenhalgh rejected the motion.

“The court said, ‘No, we’re not going to do anything with the dogs, we’re going to have a quick trial,’ ” Barker said. “The problem with that is if there is an appeal, then everything is wiped clean and you start over from ground zero. Mrs. Fay has been heartbroken over the fact that the dogs have been kept where they’ve been kept, and that will be six months on Saturday.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304, rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)