Belfast Telegraph

Fury after pup 'hit by hammer before being microwaved' in Northern Ireland

By Jonathan Bell

A man is due in court today accused of animal cruelty after a pup was allegedly killed in a horrific attack in Lurgan.

Last night police charged a 23-year-old man with causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

He is expected to appear at Craigavon Magistrates Court today.

A 16-year-old male who was also arrested has been released on bail pending further police enquiries.

There has been outrage and disgust after allegations that the 11-week-old dog named Sparky had been beaten with a hammer and put in a microwave.

Police have recovered a hammer as part of their investigation.

Yesterday the PSNI launched an appeal to get "justice for Sparky".

"Whatever happened, it is obvious that little Sparky suffered a horrendous death," the police said.

It's understood the alleged incident happened on Saturday at Ailsbury Park in the town.

It's believed footage was filmed and put on Snapchat.

Police said Snapchat would only share information in relation to certain suspected crimes, and the images concerned did not fall into one of those categories.

The PSNI has attempted to quell speculation about who was behind the incident since reports first emerged on Monday.

It confirmed other people were being "looked at" in relation to the alleged incident, "however we can only go where the evidence takes us... that is not speculation and whataboutery".

Animal rights activist Andrea Mannus runs a centre that helps rehome and rehabilitate rescued pets.

"I am just not shocked any more," she said.

"You hear about things like this, hear the police are investigating, and then there's a light sentence handed out by the courts. There is no deterrent for animal cruelty."

Her centre has taken in animals which have been abused or used as part of criminal activity.

She added: "We see all states. We recently rehomed a dog that was part of a drug deal, and another just came in that had been so badly abused its eye was hanging off.

"Dogs are normally very resilient and do bounce back.

"But often they suffer long-term problems, such as not being able to be around men, or there are other complications when it comes to trying to get them a new home.

"But what we really need is the courts to put out a clear message that animal cruelty is not acceptable in any way and there needs to be an effective deterrent."

Upper Bann DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said the community had been left in shock by news of Sparky's death.

She urged anyone with information to give it to police in Lurgan.

"This is just horrific... barbaric," she said. "We must have justice and also there has to be tougher, robust sentencing for cruelty for this type of act.

"All too often there is a slap on the wrist.

"That's not a deterrent and there is a real need for a change in the legislation and a central register of people who are not allowed near pets.

"Of course, if we had Stormont up and running we could alter this type of legislation.

"Since news of this incident has come to light there has been condemnation and outrage from across the community.

"Animal cruelty, whatever the form, is not acceptable.

"It is not a game, nor is it entertainment, and those responsible should face the full weight of the law."

Police have appealed for anyone with information, particularly those who may have footage or photographs of the alleged incident, to get in touch.

"We want to get to the bottom of that and make sure that whoever is responsible is held to account," the PSNI said.

"We have two in custody, but need the evidence to be able to take that further."

Belfast Telegraph

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