'Greasy, Mushy Mess': Officer Describes Floor in NH Mansion Where 75 Dogs were Seized
The second day of the trial of a Wolfeboro woman accused of animal cruelty toward 75 Great Danes living in her mansion started with the testimony of the cross examination arresting officer in the case.
Officer Michael Strauch testified for the prosecution Monday at Ossipee district court.
On Wednesday, Defense Attorney James Cowles spent a large amount of time discussing the search warrant executed in at the home of Christina Fay on June 16.
Cowles asked Strauch if it was customary for the police department to bring in another organization during search and seizure, such as the Humane Society of the United States. Strauch replied that each case is different and later said a local shelter could not take the amount of dogs that were in Fay's home, especially since many had communicable disease and could infect other shelter pets.
Cowles told the judge there was no mention of HSUS in the search warrant.
He continued questioning Strauch if it was customary to have an organization take photos during the execution of a search warrant and use them "online for fundraising purposes" as Cowles said HSUS did. Strauch said it was not.
A topic the defense mentioned several times throughout the day, was the use of the term "puppy mill."
Cowles said HSUS used the term to describe the conditions at Fay's Wolfeboro home. Cowles had Strauch read the court definition out loud, which stated a puppy mill is a dog breeding operation where the health of the dogs are disregarded with a low overhead to maximize profit. Cowles argued Fay's home couldn't be a puppy mill because its a massive 23,000 square foot mansion and said Fay spent $25,000 a month on the dogs. Cowles also argued the dogs visited Veterinarian Kate Battenfelder 289 times since January 2016 so their health had been regarded.
Cowles also said that photos taken in the house on the afternoon of the seizure showed feces and urine floors from just that day alone and said the lack of cleaning for that day led to filthy floors and walls in the home.
"As a dog owner, the amount of feces in the kennels was not consistent with a dog that hadn't been let out at an accurate time in the morning," he said. "This was a substantial amount of feces."
Cowles continued questioning Strauch about the condition of feces on the floor. Cowles said the description Stauch provided of areas thick with slime and grease suggested new excrement. He said old excrement would be crusty and not slippery.
Strauch disagreed again.
"If there is feces on the floor that is crusty and old and the dog urinates on the floor, its going to turn it into a greasy, mushy mess."
The next witness for the prosecution was Jessica Lauginiger, the Director of Animal Crimes with HSUS. She documented and photographed the dogs as well as the home on the day of the seizure. She explained in animal cruelty cases where the HSUS assists, she presents a binder full of information to the prosecution, defense and judge.
She told the judge on the day of seizure she saw Fay and Julie Smith exit the home, both of their clothes covered in feces.
On an overhead projector, prosecuting attorney Timothy Morgan went through a 5-minute video and photos with Lauginiger taken June 16. These images showed dogs in kennels and free roaming with feces on the floors, walls and on their kennels.
Morgan asked if there were rooms in the home that were clean and not covered in feces. Lauginiger said there were two rooms upstairs with photography equipment. She said based on her history in dealing with cases like this, it's typical for a breeder to have a "clean room."
Defense attorney Kent Barker cross-examined Lauginiger again talking about the definition of puppy mill and asked why she used that term in fundraising campaigns for HSUS. Laugingier said she doesn't work in the marketing department.
At one point Barker went up to a white board behind Lauginiger and said, "Tell me about the money," as he wrote a big dollar sign on the white board. The defense has argued multiple times that HSUS used the Fay case as a fundraising tactic.
Again Lauginiger repeated she had nothing to do with advertising but did offer up some financials about the case. She said HSUS has spent spent $478,000 caring for the dozens of Great Danes. She says the HSUS has raised $184,000 as well as about $200,000 in-kind donations (supplies).
Barker asked Lauginiger about a dog who had died while in the care of HSUS, Lira. According to her necropsy report she died of mesenteric volvulus, which is the twisting of the bowels. Baker blamed HSUS saying the dog was given an "unmonitored amount of food" and was strangled.
The last witness for the prosecution Wednesday was Veterinarian Monique Kramer. She was there June 16 at 149 Warren Sands Road, the day the dogs were seized from Fay's home.
Kramer testified that the dogs were given a quick assessment that day and later given full vet exams. She discussed the different medical conditions that the dogs had. She described the condition of one of the dogs labeled 3 on the Purina Body Condition Score (scale is 1-10 with 5 being a healthy weight). She said that same dog has sores on his knees and elbows, conjuctivitis, a mass on his sternum, thickening, abnormal skin of the ear tips as well as the right lateral wrist.
Kramer also testified that many of the dogs had papiloma virus which is highly contagious. All the dog were treated for giardia which causes severe diarrhea. Several of the dogs also had cherry eye and happy tail, she said.
One of the seized dogs with Papiloma Virus on his head.
Dr. Kramer said Papiloma Virus on the head is less common. The virus is much more common in the mouth, as shown on one of the Great Danes.
Cross-examine of Kramer will continue Thursday at 1 p.m.