The Truth About the DOA and the Wolfeboro Great Danes
After going through two lengthy trials, it seems we know almost too many disheartening facts about the Wolfeboro Great Danes. As we await sentencing, scheduled for May 11th, we can't help but wonder what that day will bring. But two other questions remained unanswered; Did the NH Department of Agriculture (DOA) know of the situation with the Great Danes, and did they do anything to help? Trial testimony provided pieces of the puzzle, but the full truth was finally revealed at a public hearing last week.
Christina Fay testified in Superior Court that she moved with her Great Danes from the New York-Connecticut border, lived in Maine for six months, then moved again to New Hampshire in 2015. Regarding her short stay in ME, Fay stated, “I knew it was a temporary stop, I couldn’t afford to buy what I wanted until a year or eight months later..." She stated she chose the mansion in Wolfeboro because, “It seemed to be very remote, it seemed to be a sweet town.”
Based on the evidence of animal cruelty revealed in both the District and Superior Court trials, there is much speculation that Fay moved often to skirt the law. ME has relativity stronger breeder regulations, while NH has some of the weakest in New England.
Given the fact that Fay moved to NH about two years before her arrest in June 2017, many NH residents have wondered how the potential cruelty of over 80 Great Danes went unnoticed by the DOA, and if they were aware of the problem, what did they do to help?
The truth is, the NH DOA did know there was a potential problem with the Wolfeboro Great Danes, and they didn't help.
When providing public testimony on April 11th, for animal welfare bill SB 569-FN, Senator Bradley advised the House Environmental and Agriculture Committee that the Wolfeboro town clerk's office reached out to the NH DOA about the Great Danes.
According to Bradley, Fay licensed over 50 of her Great Danes with the town of Wolfeboro, which caught the attention of the town clerk, and she reached out to Dr. Crawford, the NH DOA's State Veterinarian.
Although Fay claimed she did not breed to sell, the town clerk advised the DOA that she was made aware of an advertisement for the sale of Fay's dogs.
Advertisements are an important factor when determining whether or not a person owns dogs for the purpose of breeding and selling their puppies.
Christina Fay often advertised her breeding business, De La Sang Monde, Great Danes LLC. According to trial testimony, De La Sang Monde was registered with the NH Secretary of the State, and her application for that registration reads, "Plan to breed and sell and kennel Great Dane dogs and offspring for a profit."
Bradley shared with the House Committee that the town clerk advised the DOA that the combination of the high number of dogs licensed and the sale advertisement, led her to believe that Fay should be going through their department for licensure.
Unfortunately, the response from the DOA was that there was nothing they could do.
Current state law requires licensing and regulation of breeders who sell 50 puppies or 10 litters per year (RSA 437:1). Sales can be confirmed by the health certificates submitted to the DOA upon the sale of a dog by licensed breeders.
The DOA receives approximately 20,000 health certificates per year, but that data is not recorded nor reviewed; they're simply placed in boxes to collect dust. Additionally, unlicensed breeders are not required to submit health certificates to the DOA.
However, according to District Court testimony, Fay's dogs gave birth to 11 litters in 2016 alone. Sadly, many of those puppies died, preventing their sale, as well the requirement to submit a health certificate even if Fay had been licensed. The certificates for those puppies may not be in Fay's veterinary records, but the records for the 11 C-sections performed are.
Animal welfare bill SB 569-FN would help prevent such situations as the Wolfeboro case, among many other cruelty cases NH has seen in the past year.
Disappointingly, NH DOA Commissioner Shawn Jasper claims otherwise. When providing his testimony to the House Committee, he stated, “I am not here to testify in favor or in opposition to the bill.” Then two mins and 24 seconds later, he attempted to verbally tear SB 569-FN to shreds.
Jasper stated, “What I’m really here to tell you, is what this bill does not do.” ... “Under this bill, Tina Fay in Wolfeboro transferred eleven animals in two years. So, we would not have felt that in that situation was she subject to licensing. And nothing in this bill would trigger anything for us to go out and say you need a license.” ... "Frankly, there is nothing in this bill that would have prevented what happened in Wolfeboro..."
Bradley strongly disagreed stating, "Had those same calls from the town clerk gone to the Agriculture Department with this law [SB 569-FN] in place, the Agriculture Department could’ve reached out to the person in Wolfeboro, Tina Fay, and said we believe that you’re subject to inspection and licensure.”
That is because SB 569-FN would remove the law's reliance on the health certificates that the DOA isn't reviewing and that irresponsible breeders are not submitting.
The bill accomplishes that by requiring the licensure and regulation of all NH breeders who have 7 or more unspayed females kept or maintained for the purpose of breeding and selling their offspring. Something that would've easily been proven based on the number of intact female dogs Fay owns, in combination with the fact that she was breeding them and advertising for the sale of their offspring.
The DOA currently regulates only approximately five out of thousands of NH breeders. Additionally, current law does not state how often inspections of those five breeders must be conducted (RSA 437:3, III); another issue solved by SB 569-FN, as it would require biennial inspections of licensed breeders.
When it comes to people disagreeing with Jasper's apparent opposition to SB 569-FN he stated during testimony, "That's my call, not their call." Jasper said, “People can disagree with us, but the reality, we are the department that is going to deal with these issues, and so, when we tell people this isn’t gonna solve that problem, I think the push-back on that is inappropriate.”
When considering the low number of licensed dog breeders currently inspected by the DOA, the Wolfeboro Great Danes, and other recent breeder cruelty cases, it doesn't seem the DOA is contributing to any solutions. Meanwhile, NH dogs are suffering from a lack of necessary food, water, and a safe and sanitary place to live by breeders who likely should be licensed and regulated.
The NH Association of Chiefs of Police strongly support SB 569-FN, and they could indeed argue that it is them who are currently out there dealing with these animal cruelties first hand.
During the public hearing on April 4th, Chief Rondeau of the Wolfeboro PD pleaded with the House Agriculture Committee stating, “My suggestion is that you pass this legislation. Get something on the books that law enforcement can use to solve these problems before they become large crises, like we have in Wolfeboro, like we have in Alexandria, like we had in Croydon, and other places." ... “I implore you, ladies and gentleman, please understand. I’m coming to you with a tear in my eye; we have to do something.”
House Committee To Vote Soon
SB 569-FN was passed by the Senate with a strong majority of 19-5. The bill is now under review by the a house committee where it has faced its most fierce opposition yet. If there ever was a time to show support for an animal protection bill, this is it.
The House Environment and Agriculture Committee held a public hearing for SB 569-FN on Wednesday, April 4th. While there was strong support for the bill, this committee has a history of blocking the passage of several animal welfare bills in recent years. We must reach out to the committee members and make our voices heard.
Email The Committee Members - Deadline April 23rd
Subject: Support SB 569-FN - Relative to Animal Cruelty
Greeting: Dear Chairman O'Connor and Members of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee,
Message: Kindly urge the committee to pass the bill and provide a few brief reasons why the bill is important to you. Example shown below.
Signature: Be sure to to thank the committee and sign-off with your name and town
Example. *Please personalize your message: "As a New Hampshire resident I strongly support SB 569-FN, as it was passed by the Senate. I believe this bill is essential for preventing egregious animal cruelties by strengthening regulations on those who breed, sell, and shelter animals, while also including safeguards for law-abiding citizens and responsible breeders. I kindly urge you to vote in support of SB 569-FN."