Co Antrim woman whose starved dog was found hanging from blinds avoids jail
Aleshia McLaverty has been banned from keeping animals for five years
A woman who cruelly abandoned her black Labrador pet dog in a flat where it was found dead hanging from blinds after a desperate bid to escape through a window, has avoided a prison sentence.
Aleshia McLaverty (23) admited a charge of cruelty after the starved maggot-infested pet, which was so thirsty it drank a household toilet bowl dry, was discovered by shocked animal welfare officers at a flat registered to her in the Greystone estate in Antrim.
At Antrim Magistrates Court she was given a two month jail term, suspended for two years, and is banned from keeping animals for five years.
She pleaded guilty to charges of permitting unnecessary pain or distress to a dog under her control and being the keeper of a dog without a valid licence.
McLaverty no longer lives at Firmount Drive where the dog was found and the property is now occupied by a woman with no connection to her.
Outside the court McLaverty, who has a young child, did not wish to comment.
Malcolm Irvine, prosecuting on behalf of Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, said after receiving a report from a member of the public about a dead dog at a property, animal welfare officers gained entry to the Firmount Drive address in April last year to be met with a "pungent" smell and a house full of flies with floors covered with dog faeces.
An emaciated Labrador-cross type dog was found dead hanging upside down from a blind cord with maggots in its mouth and eyes.
Mr Irvine said there was no food and the toilet bowl was dry suggesting the dog had drank from it and there were scratch marks on packets of food consistent with the dog trying to find something to eat.
A post mortem revealed the dog died of dehydration and starvation and it was likely in its death throes it tried to jump through a window in a last gasp bid to escape but then became entangled on a blind.
During interviews McLaverty first said the dog belonging to her sister and that she herself did not live in the house as she had gone to stay with her mother but later in court she pleaded guilty to the offences.
Defence barrister Aaron Thompson said it was a "tragic case of passive neglect" and said the house was registered to McLaverty but she took nothing to do with it and her sister had lived in the address at some stage.
He said although McLaverty owned the dog she did not have direct control of it and the house was "abandoned" and had not been lived in for some time and the dog was trapped in the house when she became pregnant and went to live with her mother.
He said it was the sort of tragic case which "captures the ire of the community" and he said McLaverty, who now lives with her partner and their child, was "very emotional and distressed" and came to the court with a "good character" and with a clear record.
By her guilty plea he said she accepted she knew the dog was in the house and "effectively did nothing about it".
Suspending a two months jail term for two years, District Judge Alan White said he had to give credit for the guilty plea and her clear record and the fact she has a "new baby" and he ordered her to pay costs of £119.
At a previous court, Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes said pictures he was shown in the case were "the worst photos I have ever seen of cruelty to an animal".
In the Greystone estate, local people expressed their disgust at the death of the dog.
One resident who did not wish to be named, who had seen inside the house, said: "It was disgrace what happened to that dog, we believe it was trying to escape through the window when it became entangled and there were tufts of hair left on the blinds and the house was full of dog faeces. McLaverty doesn't live here anymore."