SALEM, N.H. — Police removed about 40 dogs yesterday from a Salem trailer where they had been living in squalor.



The owner of the dogs, Christine Harris, 54, of 75 S. Policy St., Lot 61, was charged with simple assault for allegedly shoving a tow truck operator and with failing to comply with a search warrant. She is being held on $10,000 cash bail.



The odor of dog feces filled the air outside Harris' blue, vinyl-shingled trailer yesterday. A chorus of yelps could be heard from behind the home.



"I've been here four years, and you can hear it day, night, weekends," said Tina Fairfield, a next-door neighbor. "We've learned to sleep through it. You learn to live with the stench."



The home, cloaked by a row of overgrown bushes, was condemned yesterday by Salem Health Officer Brian Lockhart due to the poor conditions and the number of dogs living there. Around noon, police posted a sign on the front door saying that Harris can't move back in until the home is cleaned.



"It's deplorable. It stinks," said Kelly Demers, Salem's animal control officer, as he carried out the dogs yesterday, one by one.



Demers said he went to Harris' home yesterday around 9 a.m. with a search warrant that allowed him to inspect the home and count how many dogs she had on her property.



"She wouldn't come to the door," he said. "It just so happened that a tow truck driver came to take away a couple of her cars, so then she came out."



Angered by their orders to remove two unregistered cars on the property, Harris then allegedly approached one of the two truck operators and shoved him. Police arrived and charged her with simple assault and refusing to comply with Demers' warrant. She has not been charged with animal cruelty.



Police had already charged Harris on Aug. 18 with her dogs being a public nuisance and with having several dogs without licensing them. Demers had rounded up four of them that day that were running loose outside her trailer, according to Deputy police Chief William Ganley.



"She quite possibly could be running a breeding kennel," Ganley said.



The dogs collected yesterday included pugs, Boston terriers, miniature pinschers, three Rottweilers, an English bulldog and mixed breeds. At least twice, Demers removed clear, plastic tubs full of puppies. One had a small dog with three smaller pups nursing.



This isn't the first time Harris has caught the attention of police and neighbors.



Complaints made to police date back to 1998. In 2002, she was charged with keeping more than five dogs in an area not zoned for a kennel and building an addition to her home without obtaining proper town permits. A judge had ordered the addition — which held nearly 40 dogs — to be torn down, but the case was ultimately dropped because she began complying with town regulations, Ganley said.



"Everybody knows you have yapping dogs over there going all night long," said Larry Taylor, a neighbor. "It's brought down the resale value of our property."



"I wanted to go to Florida," he said. "My wife said, 'We can't go. We'll get nothing for our property.'"



Neighbors said the enforcement brought by town officials comes at a time when the trailer park's owner, Martin Taylor, has made efforts to improve the park. Those improvements include removing unregistered cars.



Currently, Taylor is fighting to evict Harris from the property in a case that is now being decided by the state Supreme Court.



Jeffrey and Kay Bird, who have been living a few doors down from Harris for nearly 14 years, said yesterday that they have never had a problem with Harris, but feel sympathy for the animals locked away in her home.



"A lot of people have had problems with her, but we've never had a bad word with her," Jeffrey Bird said, sitting on his shaded front porch.



Kay Bird said, "I feel sorry for her, but she hasn't abided by the rules."



Ganley said both neighbors and police have praised Demers for dealing with Harris' case.



"He's been working on this for a very long time," Ganley said. "He really loves and cares for those animals."



Police said yesterday that if Harris posts bail, she could be allowed back into the home to clean up the property, but she can't live there.



The dogs and puppies will likely be held at local animal shelters. It's uncertain if Harris will be able to get them back at some point.

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