Thursday, September 28, 2023

Charges Withdrawn from Minersville Couple at Center of Animal Cruelty Case in Minersville

On Tuesday, all charges were withdrawn from the Minersville couple at the center of an animal cruelty case.

The decision came during a preliminary hearing presided over by Magisterial District Judge David Plachko on Tuesday.

The couple, Justyn and Nina Fair, had been facing accusations of animal cruelty, stemming from their alleged neglect of a sick dog and puppies. The bodies of the dog and puppies were later found in an abandoned mineshaft in Cass Township.

Schuylkill County Assistant District Attorney David Noon announced the withdrawal of charges, citing a mutual agreement reached after consultations with the couple's legal representatives. The decision allows the defendants to participate in interviews to aid the ongoing investigation.

Justyn Fair is being legally represented by Assistant Public Defender Ashley M. Sabol, while Nina Fair is represented by attorney Charles E. Dutko Jr., based in Kutztown.

The saga began in August of 2023 when Minersville Police filed an affidavit detailing their investigation into the actions of the Fair couple regarding multiple deceased dogs. Sgt. Jeffrey Bowers recounted that the Minersville Police Department initiated their inquiry in March 2023.

The story dates back to September 2022 when Cass Township Police initially received a call. Responding officers discovered a scene inside a remote mineshaft off Thomason Road—seven puppies and one adult dog, lifeless and abandoned. Investigators carefully retrieved the canine remains and scanned the adult dog for identification.

Further investigations revealed that the registered owner of the adult dog was 41-year-old Justyn Fair, a resident of Minersville. In October 2022, authorities went public with the discovery, appealing to the community for information and cooperation.

During this period, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) received contact from Angela Kapusnick, the operator of Coal Mountain Rescue. Kapusnick revealed that she had entrusted the dogs to the Fair household for fostering purposes. Kapusnick informed the SPCA that Justyn Fair, using his wife Nina Fair's Facebook account, had confessed to depositing the dogs into the abandoned mineshaft.

According to Fair's account, the puppies had fallen seriously ill, displaying symptoms such as explosive diarrhea, coughing fits, and a loss of appetite. Despite initial attempts to seek medical attention for the puppies, no follow-through occurred. Eventually, Justyn Fair described the grim decline of the adult dog, affectionately referred to as "Brownie." Fair reported symptoms including uncontrollable diarrhea, green discharge from the eyes and nose, and an overall debilitated state. Regrettably, no medical assistance was sought for Brownie, and Fair chose to dispose of the dog and the puppies in the mineshaft.

Subsequent autopsies on Brownie revealed a combination of a viral infection and bacterial pneumonia. The Fair couple attributed their inability to seek medical treatment for Brownie to financial constraints. Shockingly, they did not reach out to the SPCA or any relevant agencies for help. It was established that Brownie's last medical attention had occurred on July 15, 2020.

As the investigation unfolded, a visit to the Fair residence on North Street in Minersville unveiled further distressing animal conditions. Multiple dogs and cats, visibly suffering from ailments such as hair loss and flea infestations, were discovered. Cat cages were found covered in fur, and a pungent ammonia odor permeated the area due to accumulated cat urine. In light of these appalling conditions, the cats were voluntarily surrendered to a rescue organization.

In the wake of these disturbing revelations, Minersville Patrolman Joseph Kavanaugh filed felony charges against both Justyn and Nina Fair, including Aggravated Cruelty to Animals and Neglect of Animals.

Judge Plachko told both parties during the hearing, should charges need to be filed, they must come through the Schuylkill County District Attorney's Office.