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‘Cruel’ owner Claire Lines has five year dog ban lifted

Woman got suspended jail sentence for causing pet unnecessary suffering


APPEAL: Claire Lines with two of her other dogs

APPEAL: Claire Lines with two of her other dogs

APPEAL: Claire Lines with two of her other dogs

A woman who narrowly avoided jail and was banned from keeping animals after two pet Staffies suffered bite and puncture wounds has had the order removed on appeal.

Claire Lines was given a four month suspended prison sentence earlier this year and banned from keeping animals for five years.

It was handed down at Ballymena Magistrates’ Court after her conviction following a contest for causing unnecessary suffering and failing to ensure the safety of the dogs in September 2019.

The two dogs in involved, Jack and Jock, have been re-homed, but the 38-year-old was allowed to keep two other dogs, named Shep and Storm, pending the appeal hearing.

Her Honour Judge Patricia Smyth said that having seen emails from a dog rescue charity and a council inspection of her home she was satisfied the ban was no longer proportionate.

Giving her judgement, Judge Smyth explained that Lines’ dog started fighting with another dog after she took it into her care.

They inflicted injuries on each other and Lines took Jock to a vet for medical attention which led to it being seized by council animal welfare officers.

The officers then visited her home in Circular Road in Larne and seized Jack.

Judge Smyth said she had now seen emails sent by Lines to Lucy’s Trust prior to the date of the offences, asking what she should do as the dogs had started attacking each other.


Claire Lines

Claire Lines

Claire Lines

In one email Lines said she was scared as they were “getting aggressive” and she was worried she might not be able to separate them if they started fighting again.

Judge Smyth also said that council animal welfare officers had revisited Lines’ home and provided an updated report on the conditions in which her current pets, Shep and Storm, were now living.

It said the dogs appeared to be in good health and were well fed, if a little overweight.

She explained her pets would also continue to be protected by the suspended prison sentence hanging over her, which would be activated should she commit any more animal cruelty offences.

Addressing Lines directly, Judge Smyth told her: “I hope you have learnt your lesson, there is no excuse for allowing dogs to suffer.

“I appreciate the circumstances as to how the matter came to pass but I hope you have learnt your lesson.”

Lines’ sentencing hearing on the charges at the magistrates’ court in March this year was told that when Jock was shaved by vets for treatment multiple scrapes, bite and puncture wounds were found.

Lines told vets the dog was attacked by a labrador and while she initially agreed to its seizure she later publicly claimed it was illegal.

After Jack was seized 70 bite and puncture wounds, some of which were fresh while others were old, were found on his head face and chest.

Lines also denied sending the emails to Lucy’s Trust during the hearing and claimed the dogs “only had a barking match”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said during the contested hearing she had told so many lies "she couldn't remember" them.

He added that she "had the look of someone caught in the headlights" when she was subjected to cross-examination in the witness box.

Judge Broderick told her: “I recognise that individuals can attach strong bonds with animals and that they become part of the larger family, but equally, I recognise that those who care for animals must ensure that they are properly cared for in that when they need veterinary care they are taken promptly to the vet. That didn't happen here."

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