A COUPLE living in an isolated rural area in the hills above Larne have been given suspended jail terms for animal cruelty offences.
They have also been banned from keeping animals for five years but were allowed to retain two dogs and a fish.
Marlene McDonagh and David Moore, both aged 56 and both residents of Loughdoo Road were sentenced at Ballymena Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to a number of animal welfare related offences.
They pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the welfare of twelve dogs, four cats and two guinea pigs contrary to section 9 of the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011
The charges were brought against McDonagh and Moore by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
The charges related to findings following an investigation by Animal Welfare Officers.
Officers reported that a number of animals were severely matted with faeces stuck to their coats.
A number of dogs living inside the dwelling house were living in dirty conditions.
Several of the internal rooms had litter trays overflowing, with faeces also present on the floor.
The main bedroom housed seven Chihuahuas and a Jack Russell Terrier. The floor was covered in puppy pads, urine and faeces.
Two Guinea Pigs found at the property had grossly overgrown nails that were spiral in shape, as they were so long.
One German Shepherd found at the property had faeces stuck to its severely matted coat and had a bilateral ear infection which was causing pain. This dog also had proprioceptive deficits in the hind legs.
Five dogs and one cat had to be shaved as their coats were so matted. These animals were successfully rehomed to Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary, Almost Home Animal Rescue and German Shepherd Rescue.
After a guilty plea by both defendants was entered, District Judge Nigel Broderick imposed a four month custodial sentence suspended for three years and disqualified both defendants from keeping animals for at least five years except for two dogs and one fish.
He ordered Mr Moore to pay costs including kennelling, veterinary and legal fees totalling £4,306.30.
A Mid and East Antrim Borough Council spokesperson told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “Council gives a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and operates a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.
“Officers have a number of enforcement options available to them and will try to work with those responsible for animals.”
The spokesperson added: “However where there is unsatisfactory improvement, such as in this case significant enforcement powers are available to Council Officers to ensure matters are fully investigated and anyone who does not take appropriate care of animals will be brought before the courts.”