Derry woman banned for life from owning pets after letting Husky dog starve to death
A young mother who let a Husky dog starve to death and caused a second to suffer severe malnutrition has been banned for life from keeping pets.
Amy Denby, from Cherry Drive in Eglinton, Co Londonderry, pleaded guilty at the city's magistrates court yesterday to two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to the two Huskies.
Cooper, a 10-month-old bitch, was found dead at Denby's home while the other, Jasper, has since made a full recovery and has been re-homed.
An official from the western region animal welfare centre told District Judge Barney McElholm that on October 24, 2014, police went to a house at Grafton Street in the Rosemount area of Derry and found the dead dog and the second dog severely underweight.
The police had called at the address, where the defendant then lived, following a report from a local councillor.
The court heard the councillor had been made aware of an incident in which Denby said one of her Huskies had been killed by an intruder in the back yard of her rented accommodation.
The police officers took the surviving dog to a local veterinary clinic where it was treated for its malnutrition before being handed to the local council. The medical and boarding costs incurred in the case were £2,590 and £172 respectively, the court heard.
Defence solicitor Killian Conwell said it was a sad, difficult and distressing case.
He said Denby had bought Cooper first. It was her first time owning a dog and she decided to then buy Jasper as company for Cooper.
"At the time of this case she worked in a local restaurant, but her working hours were reduced causing a drop in her income," he said.
"She simply was not able to cope with and to afford to have the dogs, but rather than calling for help she internalised the whole thing."
Mr Conwell said in an effort to afford to keep the two Huskies, Denby took out two loans from the payday loan company Wonga.
He said she had since moved on with her life and shared her present home with her partner, their one-year-old daughter and a dog which is registered in her partner's name.
The District Judge said he noted from the loan documentation that Denby had repaid one loan for £50 with £194 and repaid a second 10-day loan of £139 with £325. "That is daylight robbery if it is true", he said.
"One thing is abundantly clear from this case and that is she must have been aware her two dogs were losing weight.
"They clearly were not being fed sufficiently in terms of their nutrition. That was obvious to the police officers who attended the scene.
"One dog was already dead from malnutrition and the other dog was suffering from severe malnutrition.
"She could have gone to an animal rescue centre, contacted the city council or asked for help from animal welfare charities.
"Too many people choose to have dogs in circumstances which are completely unsuitable for them and for the dogs.
"Huskies are big dogs and they need regular exercise and room in which to run around. Just one Husky was the wrong type of dog for this person.
"Dog owners must realise they have responsibilities towards their pets," he said.
Mr McElholm said he was taking into consideration Denby's guilty pleas and the fact that until these offences she had a clear record.
"If she had been convicted of these offences following a contested hearing she would have gone to prison", he said.
The judge imposed a three month jail sentence, suspended for two years.
Mr McElholm also banned Denby for life from ever owning pets and ordered her to enter into a repayment agreement to pay at monthly instalments of £50 per week the legal, medical and boarding costs totalling £2,762.