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Vet testifies in defense of animal cruelty trial

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OSSIPEE — A veterinarian hired by the defense in the animal cruelty trial of a Wolfeboro woman testified on Thursday that in her opinion Christina Fay was a responsible dog owner.

Dr. Samantha Moffitt, who practices at an emergency veterinary clinic in Fredericksburg, Va., said she reached that conclusion after reviewing thousands of pages of records detailing the medical treatments Fay’s dogs had received.

“These were common ailments that any pet can have and were not life threatening,” Moffitt said of the myriad conditions the state listed in the criminal complaints against Fay.

“She went above and beyond what most people would do,” Moffitt said, recounting that the records reflect that Fay typically asked for diagnostic tests to be sent to an outside laboratory at greater expense because it provided more information on how to best treat her dogs.

Fay not only had a primary veterinarian, but also sought treatment for her dogs at a variety of specialists including an orthopedic surgeon and a canine opthamologist.

“There was no neglect or cruelty with these common ailments,” Moffitt asserted.

Under questioning by prosecutor Simon Brown, Moffitt said the allegations that the dogs were exposed to high levels of ammonia gas was not supported by any quantitative test.

“It’s a gas. You can’t see it. I did not see any records indicating that an ammonia test was done,” she said.

In her work with a task force in her home state of Virginia that aids in raids by federal authorities on cockfighting and dog-fighting rings, Moffitt said, the local fire department uses an inexpensive paper test to determine if ammonia levels pose a threat to the animals or personnel.

Moffitt, who disclosed that she was being paid $200 an hour plus air fare and lodging, also testified that short of performing a DNA test it was impossible to determine whether the eight fecal samples collected from inside Fay’s home that tested positive for the parasite giardia came from different dogs.

It is best practice when determining if a dog is infected to collect a sample at the veterinarian’s office where the identity of the animal from which it was taken can be assured, she said. 

In reviewing records kept by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Moffitt said, treatment with a dewormer didn’t occur until June 30, about two weeks after seizure of the dogs.

Under questioning by defense attorney Kent Barker, the veterinarian also focused on allegations in the criminal complaints that Fay’s dogs were suffering from untreated ear infections.

A waxy build-up or debris in an ear is not proof of an ear infection which can only be determined by cytology in which a cotton swab is placed in the ear to collect a sample that is then placed on a slide and viewed under a microscope to determine if bacteria, yeast, fungus or even mites are present, she said.

The criminal complaints also fault Fay for failing to treat her dogs infected with papilloma — a contagious wart-causing virus — that Moffitt testified is benign. 

The defense is expected to rest its case today, and the jury will then hear closing arguments.


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