Man who let this happen to dog walks free from court
Animal rights campaigners have reacted with fury after a man walked free from court despite allowing his pet dog to starve to death.
Jeffrey James Greer from Portglenone was given a conditional discharge at Ballymena court after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the welfare of his rottweiler cross
The dog, an eight-year-old called Bailey, was found dead at Greer's Hitonstown Road property in the Co Antrim town in November 2013.
This is the first significant animal cruelty case to come up since last month's Northern Ireland Says No To Animal Cruelty (NISNTAC) demonstration in Belfast - attended by UUP leader Mike Nesbitt - during which the campaign group called for stiffer sentences for animal abusers.
"In this case, the victim appears to have been subjected to torturous and agonising periods of starvation before being given one large meal which the body was not equipped to tolerate and the result was death," said NISNTAC spokesman Daniel Barclay.
"If you take on the commitment of an animal, you have a responsibility to ensure you have the correct knowledge and means to properly care for the animal.
"Another precious life has been ended through a conscious and deliberate choice, made every single day, not to adequately care for this dog."
Greer (46), was convicted last Thursday after pleading guilty to one charge of animal cruelty at Ballymena Magistrates' Court.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council confirmed that it had initially brought two charges against him under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011 but said the first charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a rottweiler cross-type dog was dismissed.
Greer did plead guilty to failing to ensure the welfare of the dog, which was found dead during an investigation by the council's animal welfare department.
He was given an 18-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £274 costs to the council, while a previous interim disqualification order granted in October 2015 was revoked.
Mr Barclay called for tougher sentencing.
"The harrowing image of this dog paints a picture of neglect and suffering and we are very interested to hear on what grounds the charge of causing unnecessary suffering was dismissed," he said.
Mr Nesbitt said he supported NASNTAC's position.
"There should be zero tolerance of those who commit cruelty against animals in our society," the UUP chief (left) said.
"I promised the Northern Ireland Says No To Animal Cruelty rally that I would request a meeting with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory, given his new power to refer sentences considered to be unduly lenient to the Court of Appeal, and I am pressing for this meeting to take place."
A spokeswoman for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said they were "disappointed with the outcome of this case".
The Belfast Telegraph called at Mr Greer's Co Antrim home yesterday and spoke to a man who is understood to be the defendant's father.
The man, who appeared to be in his late 60s, said that Mr Greer did not plead guilty to animal cruelty, adding: "Sure he got off."