A Limavady woman accused of starving a pet dog and keeping it in a ‘very poor condition’ in her back garden is facing legal action.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council are to initiate legal proceedings against the dog owner.
The woman, who has not been named, faces charges of failing to make adequate welfare provision for her Staffordshire Bull Terrier and failing to comply with an Improvement Notice issued under the Welfare of Animals Act.
At a meeting of Council’s Environmental Services Committee, councillors agreed to proceed with the prosecution. It was also agreed that the view of Council, that the dog should not be returned to the owner, should be put to the court through Council’s legal representative.
The meeting heard that, on November 7 last year, a complaint was received by the Animal Welfare service in relation to the dog, which was being kept in the back yard of a house in Limavady.
It was alleged that the dog was not being fed, and that the back yard was in poor condition. Visits were carried out and an Improvement Notice was issued on January 10.
Seventeen days later an officer observed that the dog had lost a considerable amount of weight and that no attempt had been made to comply with the requirements of the notice.
The dog was seized on January 30 last year, under warrant and on the advice of a vet.
The meeting heard that the owner was interviewed on April 30 , however since then the individual has moved address.
Questions were asked why legal proceedings had not already been taken. Coleraine DUP councillor George Duddy questioned the time taken by officers in seizing the dog: “Why were legal proceedings not taken at the outset if the animal was being mistreated?”
A council official explained that the dog owner had moved home several times.
Brian Edgar, from Council’s Environmental Services Department, explained that there had been no co-operation from the dog owner and that she had moved several times.
Councillor Duddy went on: “It is astounding to think that it took three days for a vet to be found, and to advise that an animal was suffering.”
Council Chief Executive, David Jackson, informed the meeting that the issue had been dealt with by Limavady Council officers.
“I would suggest that she doesn’t get this animal back,” said councillor Duddy.
Limavady Sinn Fein councillor, Brenda Chivers, pointed out: “This is no fault of the officers in Limavady, I have dealt with them on numerous occasions.”
Coleraine Ulster Unionist councillor Richard Holmes had a similar view to Councillor Duddy and he put forward a proposal that Council’s legal representatives should impress upon the District Judge the thoughts of Council.
This was backed unanimously.
Limavady SDLP councillor Gerry Mullan described animal cruelty as a ‘heinous’ act, but urged caution.
“This report we have in front of us is limited. We do not know all the circumstances. We cannot be judge and jury,” he said.