30 Jun 2022

Tipperary woman fined and banned from having dogs following cruelty conviction

Tipperary woman fined and banned for having dogs following cruelty conviction

The three dogs that were found in a cage on a property in Puckaun, Nenagh

An ISPCA inspector found three dogs in poor condition in a cage when she visited a house in north Tipperary, Nenagh District Court was told.

Michelle Connolly of Killard, Puckaun, Nenagh, pleaded to seven charges under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, at Puckaun on February 2, 2019.

ISPCA inspector Emma Carroll told the court that she went to the property on foot of a complaint.

She said that when she arrived and left her vehicle, Ms Connolly “appeared to be angry” and had refused to give her her name.

“She said that I had no right to be there and to leave immediately,” said Ms Carroll.

She said that Ms Connolly told that she was “busy” and had no time to show her around the property.

“She said that she had a buyer from the UK and I needed to leave,” said the inspector.

Ms Carroll said that there was a dog in the yard that looked in a weak condition but Ms Connolly did not know whose dog it was.

She could hear other dogs barking and asked Ms Connolly what was in a shed, but Ms Connolly said there were no dogs there.

However, when Ms Carroll entered the shed she saw a large number of kennels on either side and six greyhounds which Ms Connolly said had been left for training.

There was also a black spaniel pup but Ms Connolly said she didn’t know anything about it.

Ms Connolly told her that the property was run by an English company.

“I asked her for the number but she said she had no phone,” said Ms Carroll.

The inspector said she noticed another dog with a hood around its neck and Ms Connolly told her it had suffered a prolapsed uterus and had been treated by a vet.

“She got aggressive and said I would need to leave. She said it was ‘none of my business’ and she was ‘sick of me’, and her English buyers would wonder where she was. She threatened to close the electric gate on me,” said Ms Carroll.

She said that as she was leaving she noticed a trailer and walked towards it.

Behind it in a cage she found three dogs - two Maltese and a poodle - that were in poor condition.

One had red raw skin, one was underweight, and one had no hair on its tail and “looked like a little piglet” while one had matted hair and another had a discharge.

Ms Connolly told Ms Carroll that she had never seen the dogs previously.

“She told me to get out of the yard that I was taking the p***,” said Ms Carroll.

She said that the dogs were brought to a vet in Nenagh who said the dogs had suffered unnecessarily.

Trauma had led to skin irritation, their coats had not been looked after for between six and 12 months, they were all underweight and there was alopecia and poor oral health which would eventually lead to tooth loss.

There was an outstanding bill for boarding the dogs owed to the ISPCA of €44,620, said Ms Carroll. The ISPCA was willing to accept a reduced rate.

Ms Carroll said that Ms Connolly contacted her on March 4 and when Ms Carroll eventually made contact with Ms Connolly she told her that the dogs had not been in her care for five months.

Ms Connolly had still not paid the outstanding bill and had requested that the three dogs be returned to her, said Ms Carroll.

However, in her opinion, they should be surrendered to the ISCPA in order to be rehomed.

Cross-examined by Donal Smyth, solicitor, for Ms Connolly, Ms Carroll said that Ms Connolly may have become angry towards her on her visit because she had buyers from the UK.

“In my seven years in this job I have never met anyone with her reaction. She was hostile and unco-operative,” Ms Carroll told the solicitor. “It was a very difficult intervention at every stage of the case.”

Ms Carroll told Judge Elizabeth MacGrath that when she had gone to the back of her van she had heard something and walked around and found a trailer with a cage at the back. It was not attached.

In mitigation, Mr Smyth said that, pre-Covid, Ms Connolly had worked in the UK from Monday to Thursday and had someone look after the dogs but they had not been looked after.

He acknowledged that Ms Connolly had been “upset” when Ms Carroll arrived unannounced.

Ms Connolly was 49 years old and grew up on a farm.

She missed her dogs and would like to have them returned. She was willing to allow access by a vet to check on the dogs, he said.

Mr Smyth said forfeiture of the dogs would be “severe for a first offence”.

Ms Connolly, who was in a position to pay €5,000 compensation to the ISPCA, was now working from home in her job, which was still based in the UK, he said.

“She doesn’t breed dogs as such,” he said.

In relation to a Great Dane and a female pup that was also at the property, Mr Smyth said that it had been bred with the consent of the Irish Kennel Club. Ms Carroll said she had no concerns in relation to either dog.

Judge MacGrath fined Ms Connolly a total of €2,000 and said she would accept the offer of €5,000 in compensation in lieu of awarding costs against Ms Connolly.

The judge said that she considered it appropriate to make a forfeiture order as “I don’t want the three dogs to be traumatised”.

Judge MacGrath disqualified Ms Connolly from owning, keeping or breeding any dog, other than the two Great Danes already in her possession, for 10 years.

She fixed recognizance in Ms Connolly’s own bond of €250.

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