TODAY (Monday) at Tullamore District Court, offaly puppy farmer Benny Deegan with an address of Clonminch, Tullamore, Co. Offaly admitted a total of 30 offences in contravention of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (AHWA).
The offences comprised causing unnecessary suffering to animals, neglecting or being reckless regarding the health and welfare of animals, failing to safeguard the health and welfare of animals and permitting carcasses to be on land or premises to which a dog may have access.
The court case resulted from joint investigations by the ISPCA and the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) on various dates in August 2018 and January and February 2019 and related to dogs (including a pregnant terrier, labradors, lurchers, beagles, spaniels and puppies), various horses (including foals), fowl, pigs and goats.
An initial visit made to Deegan’s property by the ISPCA on August 2nd 2018 uncovered an unregistered dog breeding establishment with dozens of dogs living in squalor. This led to a multi-agency inspection involving ISPCA Inspectors, DAFM and Offaly County Council.
ISPCA Senior Inspector Lisa O’Donovan, who led the investigation on behalf of the ISPCA, described what she saw, saying, "The entire premises was filthy with little to no attention to animal husbandry. Any water that was present was filthy and heavily contaminated. Any feed present was contaminated and in many cases infested with maggots.”
ISPCA Inspector Emma Carroll described how “fleas were visible to the naked eye hopping on the coats of the dogs”. She added “All the dogs smelt of urine and faeces, more had sores on their bodies. Dogs were suffering from hair loss and hair matting.”
In addition to the live dogs of various breeds including golden labradors, bichon frise, dobermans, springer spaniels, cocker spaniels, mixed breeds and jack russell terriers, investigators discovered three dead puppies in the corridor of a shed.
A total of 38 dogs were initially seized and subsequently surrendered. Veterinary examinations revealed a multitude of ailments including conjunctivitis, arthritis, ulcers, lesions, parasite infestation and self-trauma.
In addition to the animals removed, a further nine puppies were born to bitches in the care of the ISPCA. While the majority of the dogs and puppies were rehabilitated and responsibly rehomed, a small number were euthanised on veterinary advice due to health issues.
The prosecution was taken by DAFM represented by Helen Johnson BL, instructed by Sandra Mahon, State Solicitor.
Sent to prison
Judge Catherine Staines convicted Mr Deegan on one count taking the others into consideration and sentenced him to five months imprisonment with one month. In addition, Judge Staines imposed a €5,000 fine and imposed a lifetime ban from keeping animals on Deegan and banned the keeping of animals on the lands to which the offences related.
Senior Inspector O’Donovan added: “We, the public, have a responsibility towards all animals. For years we have been advised about the dangers of buying from rogue breeders. This case highlights the unfortunate reality of what goes on in some of these establishments. We would urge people to be very vigilant if choosing to buy a puppy. No animal should have to endure suffering, especially for profit”.
Report suspect cases
The ISPCA is highlighting the legally responsibility required to safeguard the welfare of all animals under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (AHWA) and continues to encourage members of the public to reports any animal welfare concerns online on https://www.ispca.ie/cruelty_complaint or by calling the National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515.
For more information about the ISPCA, to see how you can get involved or to make a donation, please visit https://www.ispca.ie/