Armagh reptile owner banned from keeping animals
A man has been penalised more than £2,000 and disqualified from keeping and owning animals after reptiles were found in poor conditions in his Co Armagh home.
The case against Aaron Hobby, from Wayside in Tandragee, was heard at Armagh Magistrates Court last Friday.
A milk snake, a gecko and a bearded dragon were among the reptiles discovered when animal welfare officers from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council visited the house in August 2017.
The reptiles were taken into the council's care after a veterinary surgeon assessed them as being likely to suffer. A vet said the bearded dragon - a cold-blooded reptile which originates from warmer climates and requires artificial heating to remain healthy when kept in captivity - was being warmed by a red bulb, exposing it to serious risk of injury.
Hobby was ordered to pay just under £2,100 in legal fees and care costs in addition to a £100 fine and a £15 offender's levy. He also received a five-year disqualification from keeping and owning animals.
The council said the ruling had "paved the way" for it to recoup costs incurred in securing a successful conviction.
A spokesperson added: "The Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011 gives us the powers to prosecute anyone who neglects the needs of exotic as well as domestic animals.
"The substantial financial penalty imposed in this case is a positive outcome as it goes much further in sending out a clear message that those who fail to properly look after animals in their care may face more severe punishments. The conditions, in which these reptiles were kept fell far short of what is acceptable."