The dog breeder dubbed ‘Cruella de Vil’ after dozens of Great Danes were removed from her allegedly filthy mansion got her chance to defend herself for the first time Tuesday.
And Christina Fay laughed off charges that she mistreated the huge animals, keeping them on feces-covered floors and refusing to give them water.
‘The idea of a puppy mill is pretty much at the bottom of my dislike list,’ Fay, 59, told a court in Ossipee, New Hampshire.
‘For me, of all people, to be accused of running a puppy mill is very upsetting,’ she said adding that her dogs had just four litters in 2015, two the following year and one before her home was raided by cops and animal control officers on June 16 this year.
Fay denies a dozen charges of animal cruelty, relating to the raid on her 13-bedroom home in the upscale resort town of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.
Speaking in a confident, firm tone, Fay portrayed herself as a caring breeder who ran her business out of love and made just two per cent of her expenditure from selling them.
Christina Fay, 59, has denied a dozen charges of animal cruelty in court on Tuesday after 84 dogs were seized from her Wolfeboro, New Hampshire mansion in June
Fay dubbed ‘Cruella de Vil’ was charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty after she allegedly mistreated the huge animals, keeping them on feces-covered floors and refusing to give them water
The Great Danes constantly slipped on the floors because of the layer of feces that coated them. They often jumped on Fay’s bed with their filthy feet. ‘Everything that was on the floor was being transferred onto her bed,’ a former worker said
She said that in one calendar year alone she made 289 vet visits with the dogs. ‘It was a very expensive proposition,’ she said.
‘I would never have taken in the number of dogs if I did not feel I could give them 1,000 percent of what they deserve.’
But Fay said she realized she had made a huge mistake when she moved to Wolfeboro from her previous home in Maine.
‘I remember writing to my attorney and telling him it felt like we had landed in a Stephen King town where they are so unwelcoming,’ she said. ‘It has never been warm and fuzzy here.’
Fay, a former veterinary technician at the Bronx Zoo in New York, said she bought the house on 54 acres because she thought it would give her plenty of space.
But within 36 hours of moving in she got her first complaint about barking and from then on had to abandon the specially-built gardens complete with air conditioned kennels that she had spent thousands on to house the dogs.
Instead, she said, she had to move them inside the huge house to cut down on the noise her neighbors could hear.
The dogs were seized in June after complaints about Fay’s business — which she called De La Sang Monde, the French word for World Blood — based in the huge mansion close to picturesque Wentworth Lake.
At a previous hearing in October, teenage worker Annie-Rose Newell told the court that the conditions at Fay’s home were ‘shocking.’ ‘I felt horrible for the dogs that had to live in those conditions’
A total of 84 dogs were seized from the squalid home and found wallowing in their own filth inside rooms that have expensive art work hanging on the walls
Wolfeboro, New Hampshire police led an 80-strong team that raided Fay’s isolated eight-bed, 13-bath mansion in June
The mansion was covered in feces across the floors, walls and furniture, while the food preparation area was littered with raw, rotting chicken
She bought the 13,000 sq. ft. home for $1.525 million in 2015. The real estate listing at the time called it a ‘custom built, recently improved, eight master suite home’ which included ‘a lovely 4 room Au Pair suite, a fabulous gourmet kitchen with marble counter tops, 2 islands, large walk in pantry and stainless steel appliances, a cherry paneled library, an amazing home theater room, beautiful marble baths, gleaming hardwood floors and all the amenities you would expect from a home of this quality and caliber.’
But the house was trashed by the sheer number of dogs kept by blue-blooded Fay — whose grandmother married famed financier E.F. Hutton when she was 28 and he was 60 and following Hutton’s death went on to become a viscountess after marrying a member of the British cabinet.
Fay told Judge Charles Greenhalgh that she had the means — and the ability — to indulge her passion for the dogs. She said she had adopted six children at birth, all of whom had problems resulting from drug or alcohol abuse by their mothers, and had spent her life around horses.
So once her children had grown she decided to start importing European Great Danes — which she described as ‘180 lb. black labs in disguise — and selling them.
‘They are dear, loving, dedicated, loyal dogs that just want to be loved and to love,’ Fay said.
She said the dogs suffer from a lot of health problems and have an average life expectancy of only around six years, although occasionally they can live to eight or nine.
But she expressly denied the house was filthy. When her attorney Kent Barker produced photos and videos of the dogs appearing happy, she denied that dirt on the walls and floors was feces.
Former workers said there were ‘piles of trash and empty boxes covered in chicken juice. There were maggots and bugs covering the floor where some of the dogs were living’
Many of the dogs have skin infections or eye irritations from the unsanitary conditions
On Tuesday, Fay expressly denied the house was filthy. When her attorney Kent Barker produced photos and videos of the dogs appearing happy, she denied that dirt on the walls and floors was feces
‘It is mud they brought in from outside,’ she said, before adding that the walls were cleaned daily.
At a previous hearing in October, teenage worker Annie-Rose Newell told the court that the conditions at Fay’s home were ‘shocking.’
‘I felt horrible for the dogs that had to live in those conditions, Newell, 17, said, according to the Concord Monitor.
Newell had got a job at Fay’s mansion, hoping to fulfill her wish to work with animals. But she quit after just one day because of the conditions the dogs were kept in.
She said the Great Danes constantly slipped on the floors because of the layer of feces that coated them. They often jumped on Fay’s bed with their filthy feet. ‘Everything that was on the floor was being transferred onto her bed,’ she said.
Newell said even had problems staying upright herself because of the floor was so slick it was like an ice rink.
Maggots infested the chicken pieces kept in the refrigerator, Newell added.
‘Maggots just poured out from the door and down on to the ground,’ the teen said, adding that the Fay family had offered to let her eat her lunch with them in the house. ‘But I decided to go to my car,’ she said.
‘I could not eat anything that day. I had to do all I could to help with the dogs.
‘I am not a person who’s prone to crying or emotions,’ Newell added. ‘But I immediately just started crying. I couldn’t breathe.’
At Tuesday’s hearing Fay said that cherry eye is a condition common to European Great Danes that is not serious and can often be left untreated. One black and white dog had a really bad case of cherry eye, a disease where the tear duct gets blocked, leaving the cornea constantly scratching against the eyelid
Newell took photos on her single day on the job and handed them over to the Humane Society of the United States, beginning the process which ended with Fay being charged.
A second kennel worker, Marilyn Kelly told the court in October that the situation at the house on Warren Sands Road in Wolfeboro was ‘out of control.’
She said at one point she could not work because she injured her back lifting a dead dog.
Kelly complained to Fay’s veterinarian Kate Battenfelder, who, instead of helping, immediately reported back to Fay, said Kelly.
‘That created quite a scene,’ said Kelly, who said Fay was ‘furious’ with her.
Battenfelder, whose practice in Bartlett, New Hampshire, is a 90-minute drive from Fay’s home, has invoked her Fifth Amendment rights to prevent her being called as a witness for the defense.
But at Tuesday’s hearing Fay defended the veterinarian. ‘I have complete trust in her and great respect for her,’ she said.
In her statement taken at the time of the raid on Fay’s house, Kelly said she had seen Fay stapled a dog’s wound without antibiotics after it got involved in a fight.
‘She said dogs that are prescribed medications are rarely given the medication for the directed time and only get it for one to two days at most.
‘There are dogs with open sores from ‘Happy Tail’ where the tail hits the kennel and cuts open and doesn’t heal,’ wrote Strauch. ‘She advised that one room is covered in blood from 8 dogs that have the condition.
Teenage worker Annie-Rose Newell told the court last year that she had problems staying upright because of the floor was so slick it was like an ice rink
Kelly said the dogs were only let out of their cages, where they had no water, for 15 minutes a day. They were fed just once a day. ‘There are no windows and no interaction. The room burns your eyes from the urine.
‘More than half the dogs in the house have liquid stool and it is common to see them vomiting as well.’
In her statement, the teenage Newell told Wolfeboro cop Michael Strauch of her disgust at the conditions she discovered in the isolated 8-bed, 13-bath mansion.
Newell had been recruited by kennel manager Julia Smith, the police file revealed. On her only day at work, May 2, she was horrified by what she found and immediately started taking pictures on her phone, which are now being used as evidence against Fay.
Newell — who was referred to in the police report only by her initials as she was just 16 at the time — told police as soon as she went to Fay’s home on Warren Sands Road in Wolfeboro, she was met by a smell which made her ‘want to gag.’
A second kennel worker, Marilyn Kelly told the court in October that the situation at the house was ‘out of control.’ She said at one point she could not work because she injured her back lifting a dead dog
She told Strauch there were ‘piles of trash and empty boxes covered in chicken juice. There were maggots and bugs covering the floor where some of the dogs were living.’
‘Additionally, A.N. said that while loading trash bags to bring outside, Julia told A.N. she didn’t like one of the trash bags they were loading because it contained a dead puppy.
‘She told A.N. that they used to bury the dead dogs but they don’t anymore,’ wrote Strauch in his report.
‘Once inside the house, A.N. stated that it was hard to walk as the feces and urine had created a thick layer on the floors. A.N. advised the dogs had a hard time standing as well.
The teen — who had experience working with animals as she lived on an alpaca farm — said she was shocked by the area where chicken for the dogs was prepared.
‘The counters were covered in old chicken parts and chicken juice was running off the counter on to the floor,’ wrote Strauch. ‘The buckets that were used for feeding were not cleaned out from previous feedings. There was also a meat grinder on the counter that was not clean.’
Newell, who was paid $80 for her one day of work, told cops she saw dogs defecating on the floor inside the house while unconcerned Fay watched them.
‘A.N. counted at least 25 Great Danes in one room alone,’ wrote Strauch. Many other rooms were ‘filled with dogs.’
But Fay kept her favorite dogs in her bedroom, Strauch’s report revealed. ‘In Fay’s bedroom the dogs were on the bed and there were feces everywhere. In the master bedroom there was a litter of Great Dane puppies. They were so young that their eyes hadn’t yet opened.’
When Julia Smith took Newell to the ‘hot and stuffy’ basement, she told the teen the dogs ‘needed to go out today because they didn’t go out yesterday and they only get water when they go outside.’
‘A.N. saw many dogs with severely swollen legs and feet and one dog that had such bad ‘Cherry Eye’ that it couldn’t see. A.N. advised they let the dogs out and all they wanted to do was drink ‘puddle water.’
At Tuesday’s hearing Fay said that cherry eye is a condition common to European Great Danes that is not serious and can often be left untreated.