Mother given lifetime ban from owning pets
By Tom Tuite
A mother-of-two has been spared jail but was given a lifetime pet ban after her two dogs were found in emaciated and starving conditions.
Kelly Bennett, with an address at Glenshane Grove, Tallaght, wept in court as she was prosecuted for neglecting her three-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Buddy, and Jessie, a now 12-year-old boxer, who have since been placed in new homes.
In addition to an order preventing her from owning any type of animal again, Judge Anthony Halpin fined her €100 and handed her a three-month suspended sentence.
She pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to five charges under the Animal Health and Welfare Act.
Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) chief inspector Liam Kinsella told the court the dogs were emaciated and starved, and he feared they would have died if it had gone on longer.
He confirmed to Jim Benson BL, prosecuting, that on February 12, 2018 he received a call from a member of the public who had concerns for the dogs.
He went to the house and met the accused who allowed him entry, he said.
The Jack Russell terrier was in the backyard and was “seriously under-weight,” he recalled.
The boxer was in a shed, which was not locked, but the DSPCA inspector who has more than 20 years experience said he was “shocked at the state it was in”.
He admitted, “I have to say the sight of the boxer, I was not prepared for.”
“I was quite surprised this animal was alive, there was no sign of food or water,” he said.
He and colleagues immediately brought the dogs to a vet.
Both were deemed to be emaciated and blood samples were taken and sent to a laboratory at UCD to ascertain if there was any underlying medical problem.
“There was no underlying problem, the diagnosis was starvation,” the inspector said.
The boxer was dehydrated and after she was removed from the house she drank two litres of water without stopping. The environment was unsuitable for them and the accused was not suited to have a pet, the inspector said.
A vet’s report and photos of the two dogs – at the time of rescue as well as recent ones – were handed in to court for the judge to inspect.
Describing the pictures of the dogs, he said they were majestic creatures reduced to having their ribs barely covered, the boxer in particular.
He said the dogs were reliant on the accused to feed, water and shelter them, but the accused had been cruel and had very little charity in her heart.
The distraught defendant was crying during the hearing, but Judge Halpin told her “tears don’t work on me”. She replied that she had “baby blues” and she had asked a family member to help with her pets.
She claimed she was staying at different addresses and didn’t know they were starving.
She also said they were not always in that condition.
Mr Kinsella agreed with defence counsel Beatrice Vance that her client had co-operated and pleaded guilty at an early stage in the proceedings.
Ms Vance asked the court to note the woman suffered from post-partum depression and had looked for help.
Her client was embarrassed and very remorseful, counsel said.
The judge had the power to disqualify her from being an animal owner and he noted the accused was not objecting to this being done.
He banned her from being a pet owner for life and fined her €100, explaining that she should be getting the maximum fine for each charge, however, he had to take her circumstances into consideration.
He also said that at any point she could have got help from a welfare agency to look after the dogs.
Legal aid was granted to the accused who was in receipt of social welfare.
The DSPCA found new owners for Buddy and Jessie who have made full recovery.