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Christina Fay, charged with abusing Great Danes, says she had a good day in court

  • Christina Fay takes the stand at Ossipee’s district court Tuesday for a case alleging she abused dozens of dogs at her home in Wolfeboro. RAY DUCKLER / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Christina Fay walked out of the conference room Tuesday beaming, eager to talk.

“This is the most joyous day I’ve had in 109 days, because the facts are finally being released, the actual facts,” said Fay, whose arrest on suspicion of abusing 75 Great Danes in Wolfeboro this summer grabbed national attention. “I have not been able to comment until now, and it’s been very painful, but the whole day has been joyful for me.”

Sometimes, truth is more gray than black and white, and it’s up to the courts to decide how much blame – if any – Fay deserves in this headline-grabbing case. But there’s little doubt that in just a few hours in Ossipee District Court, with both sides facing off to see what information could be used for the upcoming trial and what should be tossed out, Fay acted as though she’d been reborn.

After looking worn and worried in several newspaper photos, her lawyers – Kent Barker and Jim Cowles – had rehabilitated her image and spirit, as the defense team came to court ready to fight both the integrity of the Humane Society of the United States and the methods and preparation of the local police department.

She insisted she’s been unfairly portrayed as a monster by the state, as well as the media, and the outcome of her trial could bend in her favor if Judge Charles Greenhalgh rules that the defense team’s claims carry weight.

“I was vilified the moment this hit the media, and to say that this is painful is a gross understatement,” Fay, shadowed by her lawyers and two close friends, told me in a sitting area outside the conference room. “But far more important is what are my dogs going through every single day. It’s horrendous.”

She spoke her mind to me after the hearing, and she and her team controlled the flow of information inside the court.

Barker and Cowles went to court after filing motions to quash civil forfeiture notices and have seized items, including Fay’s dogs, returned to her.

They want the state to turn over records proving what illnesses have surfaced in the dogs and when, insinuating that these giants have suffered in the hands of the Humane Society, that they were well-cared-for in Fay’s 20-room mansion, that two puppies and an adult have since died not because of the treatment they had received prior to Fay’s arrest in June, but due to the poor care that’s gone on in two undisclosed locations in the 3½ months since.

Judge Greenhalgh said he’d rule soon on the defense’s motions. The clock is ticking, with the trial scheduled to begin Oct. 11.

Barker began with harsh speculation about the Humane Society. He questioned why the national headquarters in Washington, D.C., has gotten so involved, saying in no uncertain terms that the organization is exploiting the Great Danes, using them as props, cashing in on their misery.

“There’s evidence that the orders that were given were by the Humane Society, not by local law enforcement, not by people with local concern for animals, but by this corporation that exists outside the state,” said Barker, who practices in Nashua. “They are the ones who are here and they should not be here. I don’t take orders from someone in Washington. That’s another corporation. I take them from the court, from your honor.”

Then Barker went further. He said reports released by the Humane Society show the nonprofit has raised between $300,000 and $500,000.

“That’s money that has been raised directly as a result of this case,” Barker said. “Using the dogs, sometimes taking them out of their kennels and bringing them to build up publicity. I would like an accounting of what has been raised and where it’s gone, and if we don’t get it, someone should do an investigation.”

But even with the defense going on the offensive, the publicity the story has gotten so far make it a tough fight to reverse opinion on Fay.

The police and Humane Society have come forward with stories about feces and urine covering the walls and floors and ceilings, about maggots spilling from rotting chicken, about infections and thirsty dogs and an owner who simply didn’t seem to care.

And when it was over, when all the tension and maneuvering had ended, I asked Lindsay Hamrick, the state’s director for the Humane Society of the United States, what she thought of the defense’s argument, painting her group in a dark light.

“I don’t take things too personally in these proceedings,” Hamrick told me while Fay and her team met behind closed doors. “We clearly refute that there is any ability for us to make any money off these cases, and we’re all in this because we love animals.”

Minutes later, the conference room door opened and out walked Fay, with a bounce in her step.

She felt vindicated, even buoyant. The judge and the media had heard that photos not released by the Humane Society had shown clean rooms, not feces-filled ones. The spin we media types had been spinning, in Fay’s view, had been rectified, the record set straight.

Fay wanted to talk. She wouldn’t, however, comment on those photos that did, indeed, show awful conditions in four rooms in her home.

“I’m not going to get into this,” she told me. “I’m fighting for my life. My dogs are my family and my life. I will do whatever it takes to make sure the truth gets out.”

And on this particular day in court, Fay believed that’s what happened.