50 Labradors surrendered to Humane Society from Marlborough animal cruelty case

  • Smitten the cat was seized along with 50 Labradors in an animal cruelty case in 2018. Courtesy photo—

  • Manny, a Labrador seized in an animal cruelty case in 2018, will now be adopted by his foster family.  Courtesy photo—

  • Indie is one of the Labradors who will be adopted. Courtesy photo—

  • Smokie has been enjoying a foster family for the past 15 months, and now will be adopted after former owner John Riggieri released over 50 animals being held by the Humane Society as apart of a court agreement in an animal cruelty case.  Courtesy photo—

  • Smokie has been enjoying a foster family for the past 15 months, and now will be adopted after former owner John Riggieri released over 50 animals being held by the Humane Society as apart of a court agreement in an animal cruelty case.  Courtesy photo—

  • Labradors, including Mookie, were seized from an animal cruelty case in Marlboro in 2018 and have now been released to the Monadnock Humane Society. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/17/2019 2:54:34 PM

Fifty Labradors and a cat have been surrendered to the Humane Society in Swanzey, leaving the shelter free to finally rehome dogs it’s been caring for for the past 15 months while they were held as evidence in an animal cruelty case.

For the animals it’s a happy end – they have each already found their permanent homes, with the people who have fostered them for more than a year, including residents in Francestown and Peterborough.

“To the best of our knowledge, all of our fosters intend to adopt,” Kathy Collinsworth, executive director of the Monadnock Humane Society said Wednesday.

The shelter got a flood of new volunteers for fostering the 50 dogs, after they were seized from former owner John Riggieri, during his eviction from his Marlborough home. They have been held by the shelter since on behalf of the state as evidence, and thus were not able to be rehomed immediately.

In April, Riggieri was sentenced on his conviction of two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Riggieri initially appealed that decision, but on Oct. 11 signed an agreement to release the animals in exchange for a dismissal of the charges. Additional conditions on that agreement included that Riggieri cannot commit a crime for two years, or the charges can be brought again.

The cat, Smitten, has been fostered by one of the shelter’s volunteers, who will also be adopting her permanently.

The cost of care

The Monadnock Humane Society now plans to begin the process of neutering and spaying all the surrendered animals and microchipping them before they will be officially adopted by their fosters. It’s a process that’s expected to take between three and five months and will cap off more than $400,000 in expenses the organization has spent indirect costs and medical expenses or staff hours caring for the dogs.

The community was generous after the Humane Society took in the dogs, donating $150,000 for their care, Collinsworth said, but the Humane Society is still struggling to fill the gulf between donations and the cost of care.

The shelter has also lost revenue due to the situation, Collinsworth said. The shelter routinely took in shipments of dogs from the southern United States, where there is a surplus of animals in need of homes, as many as 5 to 10 dogs a month, but it hasn’t been able to do that in the past 15 months, losing the revenue from their adoptions. Even with the dogs in foster care, the shelter had to board them if the foster families went out of state for any reason, because the animals were not legally allowed out of New Hampshire until the conclusion of the trial, and all their veterinary care had to be done through the shelter as well.

“Because of that reality, you couldn’t turn a corner without seeing a Lab for the past year, here,” Collinsworth said.

In addition to the regular influx of surrenders and strays from the area, which average 1,400 animals per year, the shelter couldn’t support their regular shipment of dogs from the south, she said.

The shelter will be applying to the county to ask for some reimbursement, but Collinsworth said she’s aware the state doesn’t currently budget for these contingencies, either.

“This is one of the realities of animal cruelty,” Collinsworth said.

This is the seventh major hoarding case in the state since 2016, and the state has taken steps to address the massive costs associated with holding the animals until the conclusion of prosecution.

On Sept. 27, Governor Chris Sununu signed two house bills into law, designed to create a state fund to pay for the cost of care for animals in cruelty cases and establishing a regulatory system for standards of care for breeders, animal shelters, rescue organizations and pet stores.

For more information or to donate to the Monadnock Humane Society, visit www.monadnockhumanesociety.org.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com.


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