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Donegal man has been jailed for 18 months and banned from keeping animals for life

A man who kicked a dog up and down a street and then burned its remains has been jailed for 18 months and banned from keeping animals for life!

On Tuesday 19th December 2017, in Letterkenny Circuit Court, a 27 year old man with an address at Mountcharles, Letterkenny, Co Donegal was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment and was banned from keeping animals for life.

The case resulted from a call made to the ISPCA’s National Animal Cruelty Helpline on January 25th last by the accused himself claiming that his dog, a Yorkshire Terrier named Buttons, had been burned or beaten to death. Having been unable to contact him, ISPCA Senior Inspector Kevin McGinley called to his flat accompanied by Garda James Connolly.

To the rear of the flat they discovered a dead black and tan terrier dog in a plastic kennel.  Senior Inspector McGinley could see that the dog had sustained an injury to the side of its face and the dog’s back appeared to be burned. He also noticed a coal fire had been lit on grass close to where the dog had been found.

The accused then appeared and told Senior Inspector McGinley that he had found his dog dead at the rear of the property. He made allegations that the father of his ex-partner, had been responsible for the death of his dog and said he wanted the matter fully investigated.











Senior Inspector McGinley removed the dog’s remains to Donegal Veterinary Clinic to allow for a clinical assessment to determine the cause of death. This examination confirmed that the dog had died from a ruptured liver as a result of blunt force trauma.

Garda Sgt Oliver Devaney described to the court how further enquiries by Gardai revealed that the accused himself was responsible for killing the dog. The court heard evidence that a 77 year old neighbour, who saw the accused man kicking the defenceless dog into the air like a football. When the witness opened a window and shouted at him, he picked up the dog and walked on however, returned ten minutes later without the dog. 

The barrister for the accused, Mr Peter Nolan said that his client had been addicted to tablets and had received psychiatric treatment at St Conal’s Psychiatric Unit in Letterkenny for two days. He said his father had died when he was just 12 months old and that he had left school at 16 and was barely able to read or write. Mr Nolan continued: “He destroyed the only thing he loved.”

The accused told the probation service: "I've killed Buttons due to my drinking and drugs. I loved this dog with all my heart and I couldn't imagine hurting her. I didn't mean to kill her but this was a week of destruction and my medication was not working".

Judge John Aylmer said: “It was clear that the accused is a person in need of significant treatment for his addictions and sentenced him to two and a half years in jail for making threats to kill, a further 18 months for cruelty to animals and nine months for the criminal damage of his apartment.

He also ordered that all sentences are to run concurrently and suspended the last 12 months of the case while backdating the sentence to February last, when the accused entered Castlerea Prison. Judge Aylmer also made an order that the accused seek the necessary treatment for his addictions as part of his order.

Judge Aylmer also banned the man, who had 33 previous convictions for a range of offenses including public order, theft and criminal damage, from keeping animals for life.

ISPCA Senior Inspector Kevin McGinley said:  “This was a horrendous form of animal cruelty, resulting in the sad death of an innocent dog. Sadly, it was terrible ending for this little dog who would have died in a lot of pain and suffering.  Pet owners have a legal responsibility to care for their pets appropriately and, if they fail in this responsibility, they will to be prosecuted”. 

“I would like to thank Sergeant Oliver Devaney and Garda James Connolly and who assisted in bringing this case to a conclusion and thanks also to Veterinary Surgeon Nicholas Garvey.  This is the third custodial sentence imposed under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 recently, two of which were in Co Donegal”, said Inspector McGinley.

The ISPCA would like to encourage members of the public to continue to report animal welfare concerns by contacting the National Animal Cruelty Helpline on 1890 515 515 or report cruelty online on

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