A woman who, along with a co-accused, lived alongside a range of animals in squalid conditions at a property in Gilford has been given an 18-month probation order to assist in her rehabilitation.
A court heard how the animals, which included a Springer Spaniel, a Labrador and a number of small mammals and birds, were kept in a house “soaked with urine” and filled with faecal matter.
The case was heard at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old defendant is charged with offences relating to ensuring the needs of animals.
The court heard that on January 13 2021, the animal welfare officer received a complaint regarding welfare of animals kept at an address in Gilford by the defendant.
The complaint was followed up on January 14 and the reporter gave more detail of the welfare concerns. On the same day, a search warrant was obtained and the property was attended on January 15.
The defendant and a further party were present at the property. On entering the property, the animal welfare officer was unable to close the door due to the accumulation of household waste that was in the entry of the property.
The kitchen was “strewn with household waste” and there was a strong smell of canine urine and faecal matter within the property. The animal welfare officer found “four large dogs” in the living room, one of which, a Labrador, was suffering from an eye condition.
The living room was “soaked with urine” and in the hallway there was a table with a plastic bag containing bags of dog excrement. The stairs were similarly soaked in urine. The landing had a bowl of dog food present and an empty water dish.
The bedroom had padlocks which the other party present opened. The first bedroom smelled of canine urine and was not ventilated.
In the room, there was a rabbit, four guinea pigs, three hamsters, a canary, a budgie and a springer spaniel dog. The animals were in cages.
The spaniel was in poor condition and was lying on a heavily soiled blanket, the dogs ribs and vertebrae were visible. Rotten food was present in the room and an empty tin can that had been chewed by a dog.
The other party said that the spaniel was on its “last legs” and they were syringe feeding it with liquidised food.
The council contracted vet attended the property and the defendant advised that they had looked after the animals and one had been seen by the vet the previous day in relation to an eye condition.
The vet assessed all the animals present and certified them as suffering. In relation to the spaniel dog, the vet determined that the suffering was one of extent.
The defendants voluntarily surrendered the animals and they were removed from the property.
On April 23, a letter was sent inviting the defendant to an interview. The defendant did not respond or attend. A secondary invitation was sent on June 4, but again, the defendant did not respond.
The vet report was received on November 9 and the vet commented that the dogs found in the living area were being kept in a “completely unsuitable environment”, with their basic needs of shelter, warmth and proper ventilation having been unmet.
It said that the build up of faeces and urine led to a level of exposure that presented a serious hazard to their health.
The defence said that the defendant was living at the property with the animals and was “going through the same environment as they were.”
He said that the defendant had a “really difficult upbringing”, and she had undergone family difficulties at the beginning of 2021.
“As she stands back from it, it’s a sigh of relief that there was this intervention. Not just for the animals, but for herself as well”, he said.
District Judge McSorley said: “This is a case of passive mistreatment of animals in a situation where the defendant was evidently suffering severe mental health issues.
“I will impose a probation order for 18 months to allow her an opportunity to address that. I will not impose the disqualification order at this point. “