(CNN)It's hard to imagine a mansion serving as a house of horrors. But that's exactly what it looked like inside of Christina Fay's Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, home last June, when 75 Great Danes — yes, 75 — were found in horrible conditions.
This case shows why dog breeders need to be regulated
The charging documents I obtained lay out the disturbing details: sores on the legs, lesions covering the body, ear infections and conjunctivitis in their eyes. Some dogs had even gone blind. Many were forced to either lay down in or walk through feces and dangerously high ammonia levels. There was little light or ventilation, the documents say, and food and water was scarce.
In the end, two puppies and two adult dogs had to be euthanized, according to the the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Luckily, most survived, despite illness and horrendous injuries.
The HSUS said that Fay was an unlicensed commercial dog breeder. They told me that "conservatively there are about 10,000 puppy mills in the US with about 2,100 being licensed by USDA. But some of those other 8,000 (or more!) sometimes have a state ag dept license."
Despite warnings, many of these unlicensed breeders continue to operate illegally.
Isn't it time we strengthen the animal welfare laws? Often, breeders like Fay are issued citations but continue to operate. The HSUS said Fay was warned in Maine but was able to simply pick up stakes and move her unlicensed operation to New Hampshire. No questions asked.
Legislation must be passed to hold breeders accountable. And where is the United States Department of Agriculture in all of this? It doesn't even inspect dog breeders who sell to consumers in person, according to the LA Times.
Luckily, a bipartisan bill has been introduced by New Hampshire state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro, that would strengthen penalties in cases of animal cruelty. As New Hampshire's Governor Chris Sununu has said, the bill would make sure that the "horrendous treatment of the Great Danes from Wolfeboro never happens again."
A New Hampshire jury convicted Fay in March on 17 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. In court, Fay's defense team insisted she provided the dogs with outstanding care, but the jury didn't buy it. A veterinarian testified in court that the conditions inside Fay's home were the worst she had ever seen in all her investigations of animal cruelty cases, according to the HSUS.
One of the saddest things about this, as any dog or pet owner knows, is that dogs can't speak up for themselves. They were trapped in this House of Horrors, inside their kennels, with no way to ask for help. The woman raising them certainly wasn't looking out for them. We need more voices for the voiceless so heartbreaking situations like this don't continue to happen.