Mum denies cruelty after starved dog found hanging from blinds
A mother accused of abandoning a black Labrador in a flat where it was found dead "hanging from blinds" after drinking toilet water in a desperate bid to survive is denying the charge.
Aleshia McLaverty has been charged with cruelty after the dog was discovered by shocked animal welfare officers at her former flat in the Greystone estate in Antrim.
At Antrim Magistrates Court yesterday the case was adjourned until August.
Defence barrister Aaron Thompson said his client had previously pleaded guilty to the charges of permitting unnecessary pain or distress to a dog under her control and being the keeper of a dog without a valid licence.
However, he said Ms McLaverty then told a probation officer she was not guilty.
The judge decided not to accept the earlier plea.
Mr Thompson said a probation report should be brought back to court in August when the case is next considered.
Ms McLaverty, who was not present in court yesterday, no longer lives at Firmount Drive, where the dog was found.
Sickening pictures of the starved and dehydrated dead Labrador were previously shown to a judge.
At an earlier court in Coleraine, Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes said they were "the worst photos I have ever seen of cruelty to an animal".
The charges relate to the date of April 29 last year.
Earlier this year a further court sitting heard a post-mortem examination revealed the dog died of dehydration and starvation.
The court action was taken by the then Antrim Borough Council and after the original guilty plea, Ian Suiter, assistant director of environmental health at the local authority, said the case was a "particularly harrowing one".
Last year a report prepared for councillors in Antrim said a neighbour noticed the dog - a black Labrador/collie cross - "hanging from blinds" in a house where it is believed to have been left unattended for a considerable length of time.
When a council animal welfare officer went to the scene no one was at home and they could not see the dog, although they noticed a strong odour and a swarm of flies.
They returned with police and were able to gain access to the home.
It was covered in dog faeces, and they were met with a stomach-churning sight of the dead dog hanging from blinds in an emaciated state.
The animal had reportedly drank all of the toilet water in the house, and had left bite marks on food packs and dishes. A post-mortem examination confirmed the dog had died as a result of malnutrition and dehydration.
Last autumn, an Antrim Borough Council committee unanimously gave its approval for council officers to initiate legal action against the owner and urged a strong sentence to deter others.
The Antrim Council report stated: 'Closer examination of the property revealed empty food packets and dishes that had teeth marks in them and the toilet in the house had no water in it, concluding that the dog had drank all the water from the toilet as there was no other water source available to the dog within the property.
"The dog was subsequently submitted for post-mortem to determine the cause of death, which was later confirmed to be malnutrition and dehydration.
"The AWO (animal welfare officer) conducted a formally recorded interview with the person responsible for the keeping of the dog.
"Prior to this date the keeper had failed to turn up for several pre-arranged interview dates and when spoken to showed no remorse, but was very aggressive and defensive towards officers."