Shocking Great Danes Case Inspires Tougher New Hampshire Animal Cruelty Law

When local law enforcement officers and members of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Animal Rescue Team entered what appeared from the outside to be an opulent mansion in the New Hampshire resort town of Wolfeboro last June, they were shocked by what they found inside it.

In what the HSUS described as one of the most unexpected puppy mill operations the Animal Rescue Team had encountered, 84 Great Danes were locked inside filthy cages and rooms with no water in sight, and only raw chicken parts to eat. The stench of urine and feces made the rescuers’ eyes water.

Many of the dogs were extremely underweight. Some of their large paws were covered with infected sores; some were missing their paw pads. Other dogs had severe eye infections. One room was covered in blood from the dogs’ open wounds.

The dogs were taken to temporary shelters, where four of them did not survive. When their owner, Christina Fay, was initially charged only with two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect, more than 83,000 Care2 members signed a petition asking that she face more serious charges.

In December, Fay was found guilty on 10 counts of animal cruelty, a verdict she’s currently appealing.

In New Hampshire, animal cruelty crimes are charged as misdemeanors, not felonies. Along with weak animal cruelty laws, breeders in New Hampshire only need to be licensed if they sell 10 litters or 50 puppies in one year. There are no regulations for breeders who still keep or sell dozens of dogs, which allows for more hoarding and animal cruelty situations.

After the Great Danes were rescued, Gov. Chris Sununu announced support for strengthening New Hampshire’s animal cruelty laws. State Sen. Jeb Bradley, who happens to live in Wolfeboro, is sponsoring an animal cruelty prevention bill (Senate Bill 569-FN) that would do the following:

  • Apply felony penalties to animal cruelty that results in the death or serious bodily injury of an animal.
  • Toughen up regulations for commercial dog breeders to ensure they meet basic animal care standards through licensing requirements and unannounced inspections.
  • Pass a cost of animal care law. Unlike many other states, New Hampshire doesn’t have a law that requires people charged with animal cruelty to pay for the cost of care for their confiscated animals while the case is being settled. These costs are currently paid for by taxpayers and nonprofit organizations — and it can be very expensive, since legal proceedings can sometimes go on for months or years. It has cost the HSUS $800,000 over the past eight months to care for the Great Danes.

The bill is supported by the New Hampshire SPCA and HSUS. It’s opposed by hobby breeders and those who think it violates defendants’ rights to due process. The bill’s cost of animal care provision is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, which is concerned that confiscated animals could be adopted out before it’s been determined that animal cruelty has occurred.

Just like the rescued Great Danes were the impetus for strengthening New Hampshire’s animal cruelty laws, a dying Boston terrier puppy rescued from a breeding facility in Pennsylvania was the inspiration for Libre’s Law, which went into effect last year, toughening the state’s animal cruelty laws.

Because of Libre and the law he inspired, Pennsylvania jumped from 44th to 22nd place on the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s 2017 report of the best states for animal protection laws, and it was named the Most Improved State.

Next year, perhaps New Hampshire will get that honor. While it’s terrible that those Great Danes had to experience so much suffering, thanks to them, other dogs may be prevented from ever having to go through a similar ordeal.

Photo credit: The Humane Society of the United States/YouTube

136 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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michela c
michela c4 months ago

Poor dogs

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R4 months ago

Thanks for posting.

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Kelly S
Past Member 9 months ago

so sad

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Georgina M
Georgina Elizab M9 months ago

tyfs

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Debra T
Debra Tate9 months ago

Thank you to all these good hearted rescuers!

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga9 months ago

thanks

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie9 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie9 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie9 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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