Belfast Telegraph

Starving dog in Antrim so desperate it ate parts of sofa

By Chris Kilpatrick

A dog left to starve was in such a desperate state it ate parts of a sofa - and later had to be put down.

The appalling case of animal cruelty was discovered in the Harryville area of Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Ballymena Council is now taking legal action to prosecute the owner.

The dog, a Staffordshire terrier, had to be put down as it was in such poor condition.

The case came to light at a recent meeting of the council.

A report on the case was circulated among councillors who were informed the owner of the dog is being taken to court.

"The animal welfare officer called to the property in the Harryville area on January 7 and discovered the black Staffordshire bull terrier that appeared emaciated and unable to move," minutes from the meeting confirmed.

"Members heard that the officer observed the dog lying on a sofa which had chew marks on it.

"The dog was unable to move and appeared to be in need of emergency medical attention. It was added that the dog was in a skeletal state and had no access to food in the shed at all.The dog was seized and taken to the vet who was unable to get a temperature from it as it was so hypothermic.

"Members heard that the vet advised the dog was in such a state that it needed to be humanely destroyed to alleviate its suffering.

"Post-mortem results revealed that the dog had no food in its stomach and the foreign material in its stomach implied the dog was eating the sofa at the property as it was so starved.

"The seriousness of the offence meant a formal caution was not appropriate and members agreed the council would take it to the magistrates court."

According to the council, the dog's owner admitted two offences under the Welfare of Animals Act in that he caused unnecessary suffering to his dog and failed to ensure its welfare.

A spokeswoman for the council said she was unable to provide details identifying the owner.

Prosecutors in Northern Ireland could soon be handed greater powers to seek reviews of sentences they believe are unduly lenient in cases such as attacks on the elderly and animal cruelty.

Factfile

Public consultation on proposed tougher sentencing for animal cruelty runs until May 8. Justice Minister David Ford acknowledged there had been public controversy over a number of recent sentences where the DPP had no power to ask for reviews.

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