Thursday, October 06, 2022

 

A CARLOW man faced costs and fines of more than €6,000 for animal welfare offences after a court was told that he had made “money off the suffering of dogs”.

Judge Geraldine Carthy described photos of some of the dogs as “quite upsetting”, and she also banned Myles Fitzgerald, Craanpursheen, Ballon from keeping a dog for life.

Evidence was heard that 13 dogs were removed from a property at Craanpursheen on 15 March 2021 following a same-day inspection by the ISPCA due to their condition.

ISPCA animal welfare inspector Fiona Conlon said there was substandard accommodation and the dogs had a “number of ailments, ear infections, eye infections and skin and dental conditions”.

Mr Fitzgerald entered a guilty plea to seven charges relating to failing to take necessary steps to ensure the safety and welfare of the animals at last Wednesday’s sitting of Carlow District Court.

He faced 26 charges in total, but the remaining charges were withdrawn on the basis of full facts being given.

Ms Conlon described what she found in Ballon on 15 March 2021 as a “considerable set-up” following a complaint.

Ms Conlon said: “It was commercial, he was making money off the suffering of dogs. Luckily someone had reported it.”

The charges related to two Bichon Frise, a Cockapoo, a West Highland Terrier and two Cocker Spaniels. Prosecuting barrister William Maher further outlined that some of the dogs had been kept in kennels in poor light.

A vet’s report on the dogs disclosed in court showed many of them were badly matted with urine and faecal matter.

“All were pretty much shaved,” said Ms Conlon, “A lot of dogs were given antibiotics to get over the infection.”

In the case of each dog, the vet noted they had suffered unnecessarily.

“He had a duty of care for these animals and he did not do it,” said Ms Conlon.

Recent photos of some of the dogs in good health were also submitted to the court. The cost for the ISPCA was €1,604.91.

In brief cross-examination by solicitor Brendan O’Flaherty, Ms Conlon confirmed that all of the dogs survived.

Mr O’Flaherty said he did not wish to underplay his client’s wrongdoing, but suggested that “much more serious” animal welfare cases had come before the court that Ms Conlon had seen.

“He is here; it’s serious,” replied Ms Conlon.

Ms Conlon replied that the dogs were being fed, when Mr O’Flaherty suggested some of the other animals were in reasonably good care. Mr O’Flaherty said a vet had completed a previous check-up and believed the animals had good care.

Ms Conlon asked had the vet inspected these dogs mentioned in court and said they were okay. Mr O’Flaherty replied this was not the case. The court was told the defendant had no relevant previous convictions.

In mitigation, Mr O’Flaherty said the incident occurred in the middle of the lockdown and his client had trouble accessing grooming for the dogs.

“There were serious issues ordering clipping and dog grooming services in the middle of lockdown. I am not saying that can excuse the conditions of the dogs.

Mr O’Flaherty said the dog business had been to supplement his client’s main income and he was now no longer involved. “He is very embarrassed. I have had him in for a few consultations and he has never tried to excuse his behaviour,” said Mr O’Flaherty.

Mr O’Flaherty said his client had no issue in paying costs in the case.

“You have seen serious offences in this court,” said Mr O’Flaherty to the judge. “This, respectfully, would be mid-range; I am not putting it any better than that.”

Mr Maher told the court that investigation and legal fees put the total cost at €3,449.91.

The defendant was able to gather the money over lunch, when directed to by Judge Geraldine Carthy.

Judge Carthy described the images as “quite upsetting” although she did not doubt the remorse of the defendant.

The judge imposed three €1,000 fines on three of the charges. The judge also issued a Section 58 order restricting Mr Fitzgerald from keeping a dog for life.

 

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