Offaly farmer jailed and disqualified from keeping animals for life

A man in Co. Offaly has been jailed and disqualified from keeping animals for life after admitting to animal cruelty at Tullamore District Court today, Monday, January 20.

The man, with an address of Clonminch, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, admitted to a total of 30 offences in contravention of the Animal Health and Welfare Act (AHWA), 2013.

The offences comprised of causing unnecessary suffering to animals, neglecting or being reckless regarding the health and welfare of animals, failing to safeguard the health and welfare of animals and permitting carcasses to be on land or premises to which a dog may have access.

The case resulted from joint investigations by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on various dates in August 2018 and January and February 2019.

The animals in question included: dogs; horses; foul; pigs; and goats.

An initial visit made to the farmer’s property by the ISPCA on August 2, 2018, uncovered an unregistered dog-breeding establishment with dozens of dogs living in squalor.

This led to a multi-agency inspection involving ISPCA inspectors, the Department of Agriculture and Offaly County Council.

ISPCA Senior Inspector Lisa O’Donovan – who led the investigation on behalf of the ISPCA – described what she saw: “All of the dogs were living in squalor.

The entire premises was filthy with little to no attention to animal husbandry. Any water that was present was filthy and heavily contaminated.

“Any feed present was contaminated and in many cases infested with maggots. Many of the dogs were thirsty and drank with great gusto when offered water.”

ISPCA inspector Emma Carroll said: “Fleas were visible to the naked eye hopping on the coats of the dogs.”

She added: “All the dogs smelt of urine and faeces; more had sores on their bodies. Dogs were suffering from hair loss and hair matting.”

A total of 38 dogs were initially seized but subsequently surrendered. Veterinary examinations revealed a multitude of ailments including conjunctivitis, arthritis, ulcers, lesions, parasite infestation and self-trauma.

The prosecution was taken by the Department of Agriculture represented by Helen Johnson BL instructed by Sandra Mahon, state solicitor.

Judge Catherine Staines convicted the man on one count taking the others into consideration and sentenced him to five months’ imprisonment with one month suspended.

In addition, Judge Staines imposed a €5,000 fine and imposed a lifetime ban from keeping animals and banned the keeping of animals on the lands to which the offences related.

Senior inspector O’Donovan added: “We, the public, have a responsibility towards all animals. For years we have been advised about the dangers of buying from rogue breeders.”

Concluding, O’Donovan said: “This case highlights the unfortunate reality of what goes on in some of these establishments. No animal should have to endure suffering, especially for profit.”