Court: Wolfeboro Great Danes will not be moved before animal cruelty trial

  • (Meredith Lee/The Humane Society of the United States) Meredith Lee

  • Christina Fey 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 staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • The house in Wolfeboro where dozens of Great Danes were discovered as part of a raid carried out. Investigators say the dogs were living in squalid conditions. The trial for the owner of the house, Christina Fay, is set to begin Oct. 16. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

  • (Meredith Lee/The Humane Society of the United States) Meredith Lee

  • The Humane Society of the United States works with the Wolfeboro Police Dept. to rescue approximately 70 Great Danes from a suspected puppy mill on Friday, June 16, 2017, in Wolfeboro, N.H. (Meredith Lee/The HSUS) Meredith Lee

Monitor staff
Published: 10/10/2017 7:15:11 PM

The 74 Great Danes taken from a Wolfeboro mansion and housed in undisclosed locations will not be returned to the woman charged with animal cruelty before her trial, nor will they be moved to other homes of her choosing, a judge has ruled.

Instead, some of the dogs found in Christina Fay’s home last June will remain in foster care, while others will stay in various kennels under the Humane Society of the United States.

The ruling came in an eight-page decision by Judge Charles Greenhalgh that was dated Oct. 6 and released Tuesday.

Losing the fight to control custody of her dogs was just one of many setbacks suffered by Fay, who is charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty after authorities said they found 75 dogs living in filthy, dangerous conditions in her house.

One dog has since died.

Fay’s lawyers had filed 12 motions in Ossipee’s District Court last week to quash civil forfeiture notices and have seized items, including Fay’s dogs, returned to her.

But Greenhalgh disagreed with the defense team’s arguments on all fronts, minus the motion for discovery, which allows Fay’s defense team to receive all requested documents from the state.

Fay has said her primary concern from the start was the treatment her Great Danes have received since the state took control of them, saying they have undergone unnecessary surgeries for illnesses that are not life-threatening, received duplicative vaccinations and have shown signs of depression and stress.

However, Greenhalgh wrote in his ruling that “the risk of returning the dogs to the care and custody of the defendant, now, is simply too great.”

A police affidavit said the dogs were found June 16 living in Fay’s Wolfeboro home with feces and urine on the floors and walls. Maggots were seen spilling from a refrigerator, a strong smell of ammonia filled the air and water was in short supply, the affidavit said.

Fay disputed those points, saying that most of the rooms in her 20-room mansion were clean, and that authorities selectively released damaging photos to the media to bolster their case.

“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, said outside the courtroom last week after the hearing. “But far more important is, what are my dogs going through every single day? It’s horrendous.”

Fay also said that she never fed her dogs spoiled food and that they received plenty of water and exercise. In last week’s hearing, her lawyers called Dr. Samantha Moffitt, a veterinarian from Virginia, to testify about the five dogs she’d seen at an undisclosed location.

Moffitt was not allowed to touch or examine the dogs. She told the court they seemed depressed and would be better off rehomed.

But Moffitt conceded that she knew nothing about the conditions in which the dogs were found when police, with assistance from the Humane Society, entered the home and gathered evidence against Fay.

“As Dr. Moffitt is admittedly unaware of the conditions the dogs were kept in at Fay’s home,” the judge wrote, “it is difficult to understand how she can conclude that returning them there is better for the dogs.”

Fay’s other arguments included a charge that the Humane Society had gotten involved to use the dogs as pawns in its fundraising campaign.

At the hearing, her legal team aggressively questioned Michael Strauch of the Wolfeboro Police Department, trying to show that he had no grounds to seek a search warrant.

Greenhalgh disagreed, saying Strauch’s investigation, which included his own observations plus the accounts of two veterinarians and two witnesses working for Fay inside her home, was enough to secure the warrant.

“Probable cause exists if a person of ordinary caution would justifiably believe that what is sought will be found through search and will aid in a particular apprehension or conviction,” Greenhalgh wrote. “The application for the search warrant must only contain sufficient facts and circumstances to establish a substantial likelihood that items sought will be found in the place to be searched.”

Fay’s trial date is Oct. 16.

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

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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