A sickening animal cruelty case involving two Craigavon siblings reinforces the need for an all-island register, according to SDLP Upper Bann candidate Dolores Kelly.
The brother and sister whose dogs were drastically underweight and lived in urine and faeces filled conditions were handed probation and community service orders yesterday (Tuesday).
Sentencing 30-year-old Mark Henry and his sister Hannah (age unknown) at Craigavon Magistrates Court, Deputy District Judge Gerard Trainor said what he had heard was “a litany of the most horrible acts a human being can carry out towards animals.”
The pair were also barred from keeping animals for ten years and ordered them to pay £130 court costs each.
Speaking after sentencing, SDLP Upper Bann Assembly candidate Dolores Kelly said it was disappointing that more progress has not been made on the All-Island Animal Cruelty Register during the previous Assembly mandate.
Upper Bann Assembly candidate Mrs Kelly said: “The unfortunate reality is that there are cases of animal cruelty every day in the north, whether reported or not. Animals are regularly subjected to horrendous ordeals and the failure to create an All-Island Animal Cruelty Register is hampering our ability to stop abusers and keep animals safe.
“During the last Assembly mandate I worked with UPSCA to bring forward plans for a register and was overwhelmed by the support we received from the public and right across the political spectrum. Despite indications that Justice Minister Naomi Long and DAERA Minister Edwin Poots were supportive of the plans we disappointingly reached the end of the Assembly term with no further progress.
She continued: “This register has the potential to transform animal welfare right across our island. It would work to combat the breach of bans on owning or keeping animals and prevent people with convictions from getting a license to breed or sell animals.
“It would also prevent people with relevant convictions working in animal care. It would stop convicted abusers in the north going south to buy animals and vice-versa, with the current system easily exploitable by those who wish to cause animals harm.
“If elected I will make progressing this all-island register one of my priorities. We have had too many warm words on this issue and not enough action.
“As an animal lover I believe it is our duty to do everything in our power to keep animals safe and cases like the one before the courts shows there can be no more dragging of feet when it comes to this important issue.”