Defense lawyer says it’s too soon to judge in dog abuse case 

  • John Moyer, corporate outreach manager for the Humane Society of the United States' Stop Puppy Mills campaign carries one of the approximately 70 Great Danes rescued from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. The Wolfeboro Police Dept. called in The HSUS to assist with rescue and long-term care of the dogs. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee

Monitor staff
Monday, August 14, 2017

I suspect you’re not going to like Kent Barker, a Nashua attorney who’s defending Christina Fay.

She’s the Wolfeboro woman charged in June with abusing dozens of Great Danes.

You’re not going to like hearing Barker say that there’s more to this story than meets the eye, that there’s another side, that Fay doesn’t own a pitchfork and wear horns.

You’re not going to like it because photographic evidence and documentation have pointed a firm finger squarely at Fay. This case has already been tried in the media, and the verdict is in.

But the 56-year-old Barker, a Bishop Guertin High School graduate and Nashua guy all the way, wants you to listen to what he has to say. He sent an email to the state’s media last week, an update on his client’s position, saying she wants to regain control of her dogs.

Barker hoped someone would call him.

So I did.

“There are more facts out there that will be revealed in the future in an appropriate setting, probably in a courtroom, that are going to tell the whole story instead of part of it,” Barker told me. “Don’t judge this woman now.”

But we already have, right? We saw the photos taken inside Fay’s house. The ones that clearly showed all those Great Danes, 75 of them, looking sick and weak, suffering from skin diseases and malnutrition.

We read the affidavit, the one prepared by Officer Michael Strauch of the Wolfeboro Police Department. We listened to his boss, Chief Dean Rondeau, a tough cop who had the dry heaves after leaving the house.

We heard from members of the Humane Society of the United States, flown here from their headquarters in Maryland. We heard from veterinarians in the state who had examined these dogs, and staff members at Fay’s house, which was full of feces and urine and maggots, who tipped off authorities with photos and statements about what they’d seen.

And there was something, somewhere, about a dead puppy, tossed in the trash.

We heard from neighbors who heard dogs crying, not barking, for months, and from experts who say they’d never seen anything like what they saw in Fay’s house.

We heard this from Lindsay Hamrick, state director of the Humane Society of the United States: “We saw raw meat not kept properly and slabs of meat on the floor and chicken meat. I have no idea what (Fay’s) process was. When we were there, there was no access to food and water for most of them.

“I’ve been part of investigations in New Hampshire for 12 years,” Hamrick continued, “and I’ve been in situations that smell bad, but this was unique in that it was a 15,000-square-foot home with all these dogs. I’ve never seen that kind of environment that was destroyed to such a point.”

Hold the phone, Barker said on the phone.

“Having that number of dogs in what is normally a dwelling for people is considered eccentric and unacceptable to a lot of people,” Barker told me. “So they relate it to themselves and having pets in their own homes, so this was unusual. But the real question here is whether the dogs were mistreated.”

This is what makes America great. Fay has lawyers, which means she has a fighting chance to beat the two charges of animal cruelty. In fact, Barker is looking for action for his client now, two months before Fay’s trial date of Oct. 25.

His email Thursday night plus court documents showed that Team Fay has a totally different view on things. Perhaps the most stunning point was in Barker’s email, which read, “(Fay) asserts that her dogs were seized, not rescued, and that the true facts of the case will come to light in court.”

Elsewhere, Barker’s complaint, filed Thursday, claimed that Fay has the right to rehome the dogs, which are being cared for at an undisclosed location. He also wants to stop the state “from performing any other surgery or non-essential treatment on the dogs while they are being transitioned back to Mrs. Fay.”

The state, led by prosecutor Tim Morgan of the Wolfeboro Police Department, objects to this ex parte complaint, and a hearing is scheduled for Aug. 30 to settle the issue.

Morgan did not requests for comment.

Barker believes Fay’s rights have been violated, telling me, “(The dogs) are being held in a secret location. My client has had no access to them. She’s asked to have access to them.”

Barker also says he’s seen no official documentation from a veterinarian on the dogs’ health problems, nor has he received a final list of charges. Court paperwork shows that “It is anticipated that further complaints will be filed shortly.”

“I have seen the police reports, at least some of them,” Barker told me. “What I haven’t seen is a veterinarian report that describes in detail what the harm is to the animals that support the cruelty charge.

“We’ve seen media reports, but we don’t have anything from the state saying this is what we see.”

The media reports, including ours, have painted a dark picture. Based on what we’ve seen and heard, there’s been no where else to go.

But someone’s guilt or innocence shouldn’t be decided in the press, and this is the point that Barker, whom I’m assuming by now you don’t like, is trying to explain.

“I don’t feel it’s been a fair portrayal of Mrs. Fay,” Barker said. “So far, there’s been so much hyperbole, so much venom that has been directed at her that has not been supported by real facts.”