Farm Ireland

Thursday 24 January 2019

Woman given one last chance to hand over sheep worrying German Shepherd to be ‘put down’

German Shepherd, stock image
German Shepherd, stock image

Patsy McArdle

After a poignant court plea, a Co. Monaghan woman was given one last chance yesterday to hand her beloved German Shepherd over to the local authority, to be ‘put down’, following a long-running court battle.

The case at Monaghan District Court had been adjourned from May 2016, when Lorraine Hall of Lisaginney, Castleshane, Co Monaghan, was prosecuted for failing to keep proper control of a dog that was worrying sheep on 20th January of that year.

Frank McManus, her neighbour, had given evidence of how the dog  had caused his sheep to be “scattered all over the place” on that occasion. The same dog had been causing him distress for some time, and was in his fields again on 10th and 17th February as well as on 3rd, 8th, 24th, 30th and 31st March 2016.

Mr. Enda O’Carroll, solr, prosecuting on behalf of Monaghan Co Council, had confirmed that the local authority was seeking an order for the destruction of the animal under Section 22 of the Control of Dogs Act, 1986.

The matter had been adjourned for a month by Judge Denis McLoughlin, who said he wanted to refer to the Control of Dogs Act in detail before making a decision.

But on 13th June 2016 the judge made the order for the destruction of the dog. That hearing was told by defence lawyer Paul Boyce, that Ms Hall was seeking an opportunity to keep the animal under effective control by constructing a pen including chain-link wire fencing of a sufficient height.

Mr O’Carroll, however, had pointed to evidence previously given about how the dog was “running freely” for a considerable period of time and that nothing seemed to have been done by the defendant even though she’d had “ample opportunity”. It was still “roaming the country at will”, even after the summonses were issued, he had argued.

When the matter came up again this week on foot of summons issued to Ms Hall for having no licence for the same dog on 18th September 2017, Mr O’Carroll, recalled for the court the order it had made for the destruction the animal in June 2016.

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He stated that Ms Hall had appealed the matter to the Circuit Court on 16th October 2016, but that the original destruction order was affirmed at that hearing.

The Co Council had been seeking the surrender of this dog since that time, Mr O’Carroll told this week’s hearing.

In respect of the summons before the court, Mr Boyce noted that his client had in the meantime purchased a licence for the animal.

When Judge McLoughlin said the licence was “irrelevant” in this particular case, Mr Boyce said he knew that this was so, and that he had made this point to his client.

He had also explained to her, in no uncertain terms, the powers that were available to the court in dealing with her refusal to hand the dog over.

'Finding it Difficult'

But he also said that Ms Hall, in turn, had asked him to seek “one final adjournment”.

 This was a much-loved family pet, the judge was told, and she was “finding it difficult” to do what needed to be done. Her son would be getting married at a family wedding this Saturday, and she didn’t want to give the dog up at this particular point in time.

If the court were to agree to one more adjournment, she would comply with the order.

Judge McLoughlin agreed to adjourn the case to 23rd July on that basis.

Mr O’Carroll, however, asked the court to make a specific order requiring that the dog be surrendered to the Co Council for destruction in the interim.

The judge said his understanding was that this was what was going to happen but  he would deal with it on 23rd July if “progress” hadn’t been made at that stage.

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