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'Shame on you', judge tells mum who left her pet husky to starve

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Cruel pet owner Amy Lee, who neglected her husky dog to the point of starvation, outside court. Photo: Collins Courts

Cruel pet owner Amy Lee, who neglected her husky dog to the point of starvation, outside court. Photo: Collins Courts

Cruel pet owner Amy Lee, who neglected her husky dog to the point of starvation, outside court. Photo: Collins Courts

A mother-of-two who neglected and starved her pet husky until it was emaciated has been banned for life from keeping animals.

Amy Lee, of School Street Flats, Dublin 8, pleaded guilty to neglecting the female husky, called Sky.

Dublin District Court was told that Lee, who is expecting a third child, had moved back home to her mother's but left Sky behind in the flat, which she only visited "on and off".

After viewing photos of the skeletal dog, which has since recovered its health and been adopted by another family, Judge Anthony Halpin told Lee: "Shame on you."

Welfare

He said her offence was a "disgraceful" one that would make any animal lover cry and she was only being spared a jail sentence because of her personal circumstances.

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The husky dog

The husky dog

The husky dog

Lee was fined €100 and ordered to pay €100 in costs after she pleaded guilty to three charges under the Animal Health and Welfare Act.

She was accused of failing to take all necessary steps to ensure Sky was kept in a manner to safeguard her health and welfare, and that the building used to contain her did not cause unnecessary suffering; being reckless regarding the health or welfare of the dog, and not providing sufficient food and water.

Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) inspector Liam Kinsella told Judge Halpin he went to Lee's address after receiving a report from the gardai.

The DSPCA inspector and a colleague were let in by the accused.

Mr Kinsella said Sky was on the balcony of Ms Lee's flat.

He told the court the husky was in an "emaciated state".

The accused was co-operative and agreed to surrender Sky to the DSPCA, the court heard.

The husky was seen by a vet who provided a medical report for the court hearing.

Since then Sky's condition has improved significantly and she was adopted by another family 12 days after she was rescued, Judge Halpin heard.

He noted a vet's report said the husky weighed 11.6kg at the time she was handed over to the DSPCA.

There was no evidence of illness which could provide a clinical explanation for the weight loss.

She was also found to have a "ravenous appetite" and in the months after she was rescued she gained 7.2kg, bringing her weight up to 18.8kg.

Mr Kinsella told the court that when he first saw the dog she was "in an underweight, neglected condition and as a result of this was suffering unnecessarily".

Lee had no previous convictions.

Defence counsel Ann Sheridan accepted it had been an awful situation and there was no excuse for the way the dog was treated.

She said her client bought Sky for her family.

However, she had suffered health problems and moved back in with her mother.

Ms Sheridan said the prosecution was a "wake-up call" for Lee who started attending a family resource centre after the dog was taken. She has also attended a mental health service.

He added that Lee has no intention of ever keeping an animal again.

Pleading for leniency, she said her client was a single mother on social welfare, had no prior criminal convictions and was very apologetic.

Medical reports were provided to the judge.

Lee could have faced a fine of up to €5,000 per charge and a prison term of up to six months.

Judge Halpin described how the photos he had been given showed a beautiful dog who had been "totally emaciated".

He said Lee had no problem in taking care of her own health but she did not take her dog to a vet.

The husky was "starved and uncared for and left in a state of suffering", he said, adding: "How a person can do that to an innocent animal is beyond me.

"Looking at the photos here would bring any animal lover to tears. It really is disgraceful, shame on you," he told the accused.

The judge noted he also had the power to disqualify her from being an animal owner.

He added that the way she had treated the dog was "inexcusable" and he had no way of knowing how long it was in that condition.

The judge ordered Lee to pay the fine and costs in six months.

"But for the personal circumstances of the defendant, I would be considering a custodial sentence," he told the court.


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