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Man who mistreated pup is sent to prison

By Catherine Lynagh

A man has been sentenced to three months in prison for animal cruelty after his “emaciated” puppy died of malnutrition.

Ards Magistrates Court heard that 21-year-old Stuart Johnston was arrested on July 7, 2006 after a joint USPCA and police operation found he had kept his five-month-old merle collie pup in a “shockingly poor condition”.

Philip Burns, the USPCA animal welfare officer involved in the case, described the puppy as suffering in “a severe state of malnutrition”.

He added: “When we were given the puppy, it was extremely emaciated and could barely stand.

“It was just about breathing when we took it to the vet. It died shortly afterwards from all the mistreatment.”

The court was told that when Johnston, of Carrickmannon Road, Ballygowan, was questioned by police about the condition of his dog, he replied: “I don't want the dog anymore.”

District Judge Robert Alcorn said: “How anyone could keep a dog in that state, I don't know.”

The court was told a homeless person, Roy Ingrim, took the dog into his care after finding the pup in such poor condition. He then contacted the USPCA about the dog’s health.

He said he could hear the dog barking daily inside Johnston’s former home at Ballyrogan Road, Newtownards.

District Judge Alcorn sentenced Johnston to three months in prison and banned him from keeping any animals for nine years.

The sentence was welcomed by USPCA chief executive Stephen Philpott.

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