Sunday 19 November 2017

Woman banned for life from owning dogs

Eoghan MacConnell

AN animal shelter owner who has been convicted of cruelty was told to find alternative accommodation for 18 dogs after a Circuit Court judge reaffirmed an order banning her from owning dogs for life.

In May 2008, New Zealand-born Cassidy Sinclair (53) was convicted of animal cruelty after 27 dogs were rescued from a property she rented in Ballykearn, Abbeyleix, Co Laois.

Some of the animals were discovered "ankle high in their own liquid faeces, fighting over animal carcasses" while others had open wounds, mange and infections, the court heard.

At a sitting of Portlaoise Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Michael White said the District Court order preventing Sinclair from owning dogs was proportionate in light of the "appalling and inexcusable cruelty to these unfortunate animals".

While accepting Sinclair's failure to provide adequate care could not be viewed as "deliberate cruelty", Judge White said "if actions were taken by Ms Sinclair by separating the dogs, by ensuring they had clean living conditions, then unspeakable cruelty would have been avoided to these animals".

Sinclair claimed she took in needy dogs and would rehome the animals when possible. At the time of the offence she said she was "overwhelmed" by the number of animals coming to her.

When ISPCA inspector Brendan Hughes was called to the house on March 12, 2008, he discovered 19 dogs in a 20ft by 30ft yard with a single 8ft by 6ft shed.

Sinclair, now living in Co Cork, said she had been a dog lover for years.

Although she never had a desire to run a shelter, Ms Sinclair said it was very hard to turn your back on an animal. At present, she said, "I have seven dogs of my own, in addition to that I have 11 dogs that are waiting for rescue."

Sinclair said she never chose to have so many dogs but agreed that conditions were unacceptable.

State solicitor Donal Dunne reminded her that she had "48 dogs in a small house" kept in "conditions that are almost impossible to describe". He said she had "failed spectacularly to keep them healthy".

Judge White said "the whole set-up reflected a complete absence of the basic standards of care which I would expect from a person who had a knowledge of dogs."

Irish Independent

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