Belfast pet owner Tracey Calender who starved Akita dog to death spared jail
A woman who allowed her proud Japanese Akita type dog to starve to death has been spared jail but barred from keeping a pet for 15 years.
Tracey Calender’s tragically neglected dog was found emaciated and covered in its own excrement at the back of her north Belfast home.
The city’s Departmental Magistrates’ Court was told the dog was discovered by animal welfare officers who called to Calender’s home in May last year.
A solicitor for Belfast City Council explained that a post mortem on the dog determined that it had died from starvation due to neglect.
The lawyer said that during interview Calender admitted not feeding the dog but claimed she did not notice the animal losing weight as she didn’t venture out to the back of her house.
She was charged with one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and a further count of failure to meet the needs of an animal.
District Judge Ramsey said the case clearly crossed the custody threshold adding that Calender had shown a callous disregard for the suffering of her pet.
He said she didn’t go near the dog and failed to take it into her notice.
A defence solicitor said his client was going through a period of significant personal trauma during the time of the dog’s neglect.
Judge Ramsey interjected saying that if Calender found she was incapable of looking after the dog all she had to do was call the USPCA to come and take it away.
The judge added that it was hard to look past the picture taken by the animal welfare officers showing the emaciated dog covered in its own faeces.
“Starving to death is not a pleasant way to die. Her circumstances made her unable to look after the animal and she was probably unfit to look after herself,” he said.
Calender, of Etna Drive, was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for three years. She was also banned from keeping a pet or any animal for 15 years. She was fined £69 court costs.
Addressing Calender directly, Judge Ramsey asked her: “Do you realise how lucky you are not to be going to jail?”
Standing in the public gallery, Calender replied that she was aware she was fortunate not to be sent to prison.