Belfast Telegraph

Man who almost starved dog to death jailed for three months

BY Chris Kilpatrick

A man who almost starved his dog to death has been given a three-month prison sentence and banned from keeping animals.

Felix Curley was sentenced to three months in custody and fined after being convicted of causing unnecessary suffering and failing to ensure the dog was kept healthy.

He is only the second person to receive a custodial sentence under new legislation on animal cruelty in Northern Ireland.

The charges related to a four-year-old German shepherd, Sheba, which was seized from his property last November.

She was found to be "in an extreme state of malnourishment".

Despite the appalling condition of the animal, Curley yesterday insisted he had "done nothing wrong" when approached by the Belfast Telegraph.

As well as the prison sentence, Curley was ordered to pay £1,800 costs and banned from keeping any animals for five years.

Curley was released on his own bail of £500 pending appeal against the convictions.

The disqualification order was stayed until the appeal has been heard.

Two large dogs were present at the rear of Curley's flat at Summerhill Drive, Dunmurry, yesterday and a sign warned visitors German shepherd dogs were in the vicinity.

Lisburn City Council said it was one of the worst cases of its kind they had come across.

"When presented at the vet the dog weighed just 14kgs," said Sally Courtney, environmental health manager of the council

"A dog of that size should weigh about 30kg. The vet gave her quite a grave diagnosis to begin with and wasn't sure whether she would make it through."

Sheba received intensive medical care and was slowly nursed back to health with antibiotics and small amounts of food.

Remarkably she has made a full recovery and has since been re-homed.

Ms Courtney said she hoped the custodial sentence handed down to Curley would act as a deterrent to others.

"I think the sentence the man was given in this case reflects just how serious it was," she said. "Certainly not all our cases would be as serious as this one.

"It's a very distressing case and we don't want to see it on our doorstep again."

Curley was convicted at Lisburn Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Felix Curley is only the second person to be given a custodial sentence in Northern Ireland under new animal welfare legislation. The Welfare of Animals Act was introduced in 2011. Last month a Co Antrim farmer found guilty of animal cruelty offences was ordered to spend six months in prison. Michael Agnew (43), of Ballynease Road near Portglenone, was convicted of 16 charges at Ballymena Magistrates Court. Agnew was also fined £2,000 and disqualified from keeping livestock for 10 years. He has bailed having lodged an appeal against the convictions

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