×

With or without her dogs, Christina Fay says she’ll never go home

  • Courtesy

  • A Great Dane seized at a Wolfeboro mansion owned by Christina Fay in June is pictured. Courtesy Humane Society of the United States

  • Christina Fay has been in Concord ever since the June 16th raid on her Wolfeboro home and she says her faith has helped her through everything. She has attended St. John the Evanglist church on South Main Street in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A first-floor bedroom in Christina Fay’s Wolfeboro mansion is shown on May 8. Fay was arrested the following month. Courtesy Christina Fay



Monitor staff
Friday, November 17, 2017

Christina Fay insists she won’t go back to her mansion in Wolfeboro.

Ever.

Too painful, she says. Too many memories of her beloved Great Danes. The ones taken from her in a headline-screaming incident in June. The ones she says she cared for as though they were her own children. The ones police say were caked with feces.

“I don’t think I would stop sobbing if I still lived there,” Fay told me.

That’s why she’s been living in a Concord hotel since June, when police handcuffed her and led her to the back seat of a cruiser.

Her six-day trial is over, so we’re waiting for the judge to rule on 12 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and negligence.

Meanwhile, Fay wanted to talk, and I wanted to listen. I met her at a downtown coffee shop Thursday, searching for anything about this woman that might shed some light on who she is, what she’s been doing, where she’s going, what she’s feeling.

She wore a striped shirt and dark blazer, and she checked her phone twice to see how the stock market was doing. She’s wealthy but says she owes her lawyers “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

She was arrested for mistreating 75 dogs, and not just regular dogs, but really, really big dogs. And not while living in a regular home, but in a gated eight-room mansion valued at $1.53 million, purchased by a woman whose inability to conceive children led to the adoption of six newborns, each with exposure to prenatal drugs and alcohol, two of whom have severe emotional and physical problems today, as adults.

That, Fay says, is why all those dogs entered the picture. After years of raising these children, for the most part by herself while her millionaire husband, an investment banker, worked long hours, Fay says she deserved to be surrounded by, well, dogs.

“I want people to understand that,” Fay, 59, told me. “I wanted to laugh. I wanted to have some beauty.”

Her critics say 75 giant dogs’ worth of beauty is a tad overboard, and Fay doesn’t necessarily disagree, telling me, “It’s too many, but remember, 13 of them had homes waiting at the time. Was 75 ideal for me? No. Fifty was ideal for me.”

Fifty sounds like an awful lot as well. But Fay, by her own admission, is an “over-the-top” sort of character. After all, who adopts six children – five sons and a daughter, all born between 1990 and 2000 – each with the potential for major problems later on?

Two of her sons live with her ex-husband in Dutchess County, N.Y., and need constant care. Another son was with her in Wolfeboro until the raid and is now in an assisted-living facility in Florida. Two other sons and her daughter live on their own, their problems mild enough for that.

“I paid my dues and I adored my children,” Fay said. “I wanted my last chapter to be fun.’

She can afford to have fun. While married, she and her husband had 15 horses. She inherited millions from her great-grandfather. After her divorce three years ago, she moved to Auburn, Maine, where she owned between 30 and 35 Great Danes. She brought some from New York, imported others from Europe.

Reports claimed that she had a puppy mill there, that she was run out of town because of shady business practices. Nope, Fay claims.

“Never had puppies, never had a litter,” Fay said. “I left because my home needed $200,000 to $300,000 of work, and I didn’t have enough land. I wanted more land.”

So she moved to Wolfeboro in 2015. She spent $55,000 on fencing and kept her dogs cool, showing me a two-month electric bill for $3,471. She said her overall expenses to treat her dogs like kings and queens totaled $25,000 to $35,000 per month.

“Eccentric? Yes,” Fay conceded.

She was an open book, telling me that she wasn’t crazy, she suffered from depression, and her arrest for operating under the influence four years ago, when she crashed her car into another, occurred because of prescription pain medication, needed because of a failed knee replacement.

“I take 100 percent responsibility,” Fay told me.

Her goal here, of course, was to spread the word – her word – that the police and by extension the media had wronged her with false information since her arrest. Fay wanted to use the press to her advantage.

“I have one thing in common with Mr. Trump, and it’s that I didn’t know the media could be inaccurate and skewed,” she told me, “And I didn’t know the police could lie.”

She wanted the other side of the story out, and was willing to share it without even asking her defense attorneys for permission.

“With the trial over,” she said, “I did not need their permission.”

She wouldn’t comment on her chances for an acquittal, saying her lawyers wouldn’t like that. She said she’s worried what the judge will rule, and for good reason.

The photos introduced in court and released to the press were damning. The words from the Wolfeboro Police Department and witnesses were, too.

We saw pictures of feces and dogs with red eyes. The medical reports mentioned infectious diseases. The witnesses said they saw maggots and rotting chicken. The police and the Humane Society of the United States said they smelled ammonia, strong enough to curl your toes.

Fay had an answer for each charge.

Cherry eye, she said, is common among Great Danes, and surgeries were performed until deemed ineffective.

Those skating rink-like floors, covered with urine and feces? An exaggeration, Fay said. The puppy found in the garbage? True, but it weighed just 7 ounces, couldn’t see or hear. What else could she do?

“It was basically unformed, a runt,” Fay said.

Was Fay’s clothing covered in feces when the cops arrived? Were the photos a fair portrayal of what the house was like inside? Were there maggots everywhere, including in the dogs’ food?

“Lies, lies, lies,” she said. “If anyone takes responsibility, it’s me, but the distortion was so great, so unfair.”

Fay speculated that her new community simply didn’t like her, the outsider who moved into a house, left empty for years, with a boatload of big dogs.

Maybe that’s why the Humane Society and police came down on her so hard.

“It was obvious from the first week we were not welcome,” Fay said. “No neighbors said hi. Never a wave. No warmth, no kindness.”

Maybe your eyes are rolling by now, your head shaking back and forth. Maybe you’re not buying this, not one word of it.

Fay knows. She’s seen the media reports, the ones published as far away as Scotland, where the Daily Mail called her Cruella de Vil.

What can she do about it now? She says she’s secured 41 homes for dogs if she gets them back, at addresses the judge already has. She says she’d like the “retirees” back, the older dogs she’s grown attached to.

She said if found guilty, she’ll never purchase more dogs, telling me, “It’s like if a child dies, would you conceive another? I don’t think so.”

She also told me she’ll never forget the morning of her arrest, on June 16, when cop cars roared up to the front of her mansion, unannounced, with Humane Society vans and horse trailers in tow, with Fay being led away in handcuffs, left to shout instructions from the back seat of a cruiser, trying to tell police about medications her dogs would need.

“I opened the door and there were six or eight rifles trained on me,” Fay said. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”

The police were not. And neither is Fay when she says she’s leaving the state if her dogs are returned to her. She may leave no matter what.

Either way, that mansion in Wolfeboro is empty again, and it’s going to stay that way for a while.

“I’ve never been back to the house,” Fay said. “I could never live there again.”