Roscommon man loses appeal against sentence for animal cruelty

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Roscommon man loses appeal against sentence for animal cruelty

At Roscommon Circuit Court, on Monday 30th November 2020, Patrick Connolly with an address at Cooltacker, Kilroosky, Co. Roscommon failed in his appeal against a sentence imposed for animal cruelty in December 2019. At that time, he was sentenced to a three month custodial sentence, suspended for one year, and was disqualified from keeping dogs for five years.

Judge Francis Comerford upheld the five year disqualification, fined Mr Connolly €1,000 and ordered that he pay €1,050 veterinary costs.

The case arose from a number of visits made to Mr Connolly’s property by ISPCA Inspectors and Gardaí in 2017.

Large numbers of Collie dogs were discovered at the property, some living in horrendous conditions. One had a nasty open wound with part of its mouth missing while other dogs were in poor body condition, with ribs and hip bones protruding. A total of 34 Collie dogs were removed by the ISPCA over a period of time, 29 of which were surrendered to the charity.

In February 2018, at Roscommon District Court, Mr Connolly agreed to admit one sample charge under the Animal Health and Welfare Act (AHWA) 2013. At that time he gave commitments regarding the care of four dogs remaining in his possession and the case was adjourned.

Having failed to honour the commitments he gave, Mr Connolly appeared before the court in December 2019. The defendant represented himself in court and pleaded guilty admitting that he was “deeply ashamed” of the suffering he had caused to his dogs.  Judge Alan Mitchell commented on photographs of the dogs, stating that they were “appalling” and “quite distressing”. He said that he could impose up to a lifetime ban adding: “If you can’t look after them properly, you shouldn’t have dogs. I have to send out a strong message, that people who neglect animals can expect serious consequences”.

During last Monday’s appeal hearing, ISPCA Inspector Karen Lyons gave evidence of visiting Mr Connolly’s property on the 29th August 2017 and returning the next day accompanied by Gardaí. Six dogs were seized and taken for veterinary assessment. Ann Neville, the vet who examined the dogs, told the court that all except one had a body condition score of one out of five.

Judge Comerford said: “The accused failed to take the necessary steps which would have avoided these dogs from arriving in this state. These dogs were in distress and were suffering; there clearly was offences committed”.  Judge Comerford added:  “A breach of this ban could result in an immediate custodial sentence”.

Inspector Lyons added: “It has been a long ongoing journey since 2017.  The five year disqualification was upheld by Judge Comerford and this man was held accountable for his offences. Any more dogs remaining on his property will be surrendered to the ISPCA within fourteen days”.

Karen said:  “We would like to thank An Garda Síochána for their help in bringing this case to a final conclusion and to also remind pet owners of their legal responsibility to safeguard the welfare of the animals in their care under the AHWA 2013. It can take the months of care and rehabilitation to get a rescued animal back to a healthy condition, and many people don’t realise that seized animals may need to be detained pending court case outcomes. This can take a huge amount of time and resources, before such animals can be permanently rehomed”.

Worryingly, many of our fundraising activities have been cancelled or postponed, so kind donations from animal lovers are more important than ever during these very challenging times. If you can, please help the ISPCA continue our vital work rescuing and caring for Ireland’s most vulnerable animals.

By donating today, you can help us save more animals and find them new homes, where they will be loved and cared for, for the rest of their lives.

Members of the public should continue to report animal welfare concerns to the ISPCA in confidence by contacting the National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515 or report in confidence online here https://www.ispca.ie/cruelty_ complaint or email helpline@ispca.ie.