Great Danes, Great Justice: Tina Fay Convicted on 10 Counts of Animal Cruelty
photos courtesy - HSUS
OSSIPEE — A judge has issued a guilty verdict on 10 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty charges against Christina "Tina" Fay.
Fay chose to have a judge issue a decision rather than a jury trial. Judge Charles Greenhalgh listened to six days of testimony this fall by witnesses who said Fay was a hoarder who's dogs lived in their own excrement and recounted entering the home with urine levels so high the ammonia burned their eyes. Others testified Fay was a loving and caring dog owner who would do anything for her pets.
The final order, which is 20 pages long, outlines the facts of the case as well as the charges against Fay.
Fay moved to 149 Warren Sands Road in Wolfeboro in 2015 with approximately 40-50 Great Danes and a staff of 4-5 people who helped her care for the dogs. She was the owner of De La Sange Monde Great Danes, a kennel, and testified she was very proud of her European Great Danes, a unique breed not commonly seen in the U.S.
By the beginning of May 2017, Fay had just one full-time employee besides herself.
Annie Rose Newell, a 17-year-old witness who testified she was employed by Fay for one day, was the first whistle-blower in the case, taking photos in the home of the conditions. She testified on the stand describing piles of trash in the garage, chicken juice oozing from the counter tops, maggot-infested chicken and a floor so slick with urine and feces it was hard to walk.
Another witness for the state, Marilyn Kelly, worked for Fay for several weeks and testified to what she saw in the mansion. She testified feces was up to her waist on the walls, dead dogs in plastic bags, the dogs weren't given water unless they were outside, some dogs had wounds stapled shut from fighting and the overwhelming smell of urine permeating through the home.
Several other witnesses took the stand, including veterinarians, accusing Fay of not providing sufficient care for the dogs. Several of the dogs suffered ailments like giardia, papilloma virus and cherry eye.
The defense argued the day in June when Wolfeboro police accompanied by the Humane Society of the United States issued a warrant to search the Fay property and seize the Great Danes was the happenstance of "a perfect storm". Fay testified that the home was typically clean by midday and that her care was exceptional. Her attorneys provided a 289 page binder that included all the times the dogs went to the veterinarian the past two years, as evidence of exceptional care.
Fay also testified she spent $25,000-$35,000 a month on the dogs' care. She said she didn't do it for the money, instead she compared her dogs to a rare art collection.
Greenhalgh wrote in the last four pages how he came to a guilty verdict on the 10 charges.
"The totality of evidence, including pictures, video and testimony from witnesses in or around the Defendant's home, between the beginning of May and June 16, 2017, consistently show the same conditions," he wrote. "These included an accumulation of feces and urine, which was not cleaned and built up over time to a point that made walking in the home difficult.
"The dogs were forced to live in filthy unsanitary conditions. Some were lying for many days in their own feces and urine and it was covering their coats."
Greenhalgh says in the late spring, the conditions of the dogs' environment began to decline.
"The evidence shows that at the time the Defendant had the most dogs in her home, she had the fewest employees to help her," he wrote. "She herself was injured and unable to fully care for the dogs."
Based on the testimony given at trial and by the evidence supplied, Greenhalgh believed 10 of the 12 charges exceeded the burden of proof to charge Fay with animal cruelty.
She was found guilty on five of the specific dog animal cruelty charges including Zizi, Fantasia, Lyra, Joue and Harazah.
Fay also was found guilty of five general charges including not properly treating giardia, not properly treating papilloma infection, not properly treating ear infections, not making water readily available to the dogs and allowing a heavy accumulation of feces and urine in the dogs' living area exposing them to high levels of ammonia caused by their own decaying waste.
Lindsay Hamrick, New Hampshire state director for (HSUS) says they are pleased with the verdict.
“Given the facts of the case and the compelling evidence the State presented, Judge Greenhalgh was right to find the defendant guilty of animal cruelty," she said.
Hamrick says the HSUS is committed to animal welfare in the state and across the country.
"The suffering these animals endured at Fay’s hands could have been alleviated much sooner or prevented if New Hampshire had stronger commercial breeding laws," she says.
The HSUS is also working toward stregthening penalities in animal cruelty cases and to address the enormous financial burden "placed on taxpayers and non-profit organizations to care for animals legally seized from cruelty investigations."
Hamrick says the cost of care for these Great Danes has not been cheap. The dogs have been housed at a secure facility since the June seizure - their cost of care estimated at $500,000.
“We are thrilled The Honorable Judge Greenhalgh handed down a conviction of 10 counts of animal cruelty," said Wolfeboro Police Department Chief Dean Rondeau. "I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to prosecutors Simon Brown and Timothy Morgan, as well as The Humane Society of the United States, Conway Area Humane Society and Pope Memorial SPCA for their incredible work and dedication to rescuing and seeking justice for these Great Danes.”
Fay could face up to a year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine for each charge. Typically in the past in New Hampshire those convicted of animal cruelty have not seen jail time; however, in August 2017 a Croydon woman was sentenced to six months in prison for neglecting almost two dozen Chihuahuas, many had to be euthanized after their seizure due to poor health.
On Tuesday, Fay's lawer Kent Barker said she plans to appeal.
Fay and members of her defense team "are disappointed in the verdict, and the Court's analysis of the facts and law used to reach the verdict," Barker said. "Mrs. Fay's primary concern at present is the welfare of the dogs, who remain her property and have been held for six months post seizure as of this coming Saturday. Mrs. Fay looks forward to the next step in the process."
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled within the next 30 days.