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25/07/2021

Court told dog died after being 'abandoned' by owners

Derry courthouse

Derry courthouse at Bishop Street.

Derry Magistrates Court has today heard that a dog died after being abandoned by its owners in a ‘totally unacceptable’ environment.

Christopher McCarter, 24, and Gwendaline McCarter, 43, of Irish Street were jointly charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a dog, failing to meet the needs of two dogs and abandoning animals on or before January 19, 2018.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said he hoped the case could be dealt with in the absence of the defendants.

A representative from Derry City and Strabane District Council read out the prosecution facts.

She said an animal welfare officer called to a house in Kingsmere Gardens on January 23, 2018.

A neighbour had raised concerns about dogs barking from the previous Friday and said he could only hear one dog now.

The court was told that the council worker was concerned after looking through the window and upon entry discovered that the floor was covered in faeces and urine.

The worker also observed a few pieces of dry dog food.

A Terrier dog was seen lying dead on the floor; its coat was matted and the worker could feel its ribs, hip bones and spine, the council representative said.

Another dog could be heard barking further under the table, she added, a black and tan terrier.

The council officer managed to coax the dog out and it was found to be in ‘reasonably well’ condition.  The animal was given some water.

The court heard that rubbish was strewn around the house, there were empty packets of dog food and no electricity.

A vet determined that the surviving dog would suffer if its circumstances didn’t change and it was taken into the care of the council.

A post-mortem was carried out on the dead dog.

Assessing the environment, the vet found that there were ‘shocking levels of filth’ in the property and no food or water for the pets.

“The property was unhygienic and unsafe,” the vet added.

The dead dog was in a ‘very poor condition’ and he found that the environment was ‘totally unacceptable’ and ‘a picture of neglect’.

In his professional opinion, the animals weren’t protected from injury or disease.

The vet believed the dead dog was ‘out-competed’ for food by his companion and the animal ‘suffered in its final days’.

The workplace of Gwendaline McCarter was identified and she was cautioned.

She told police she did not believe the dogs were abandoned and thought her son and his friends were looking after them.

The defendant confirmed that she owned the dead dog along with her ‘since ex-partner’.

The other dog was only in the house for a short time and she had left two weeks previous, she added.

Gwendaline McCarter was ‘shocked’ that the dog had died but accepted that it had suffered.

Christopher McCarter was then traced in July 2018 and subsequently cautioned.

He confirmed that the black and tan Terrier dog was called Toby which he originally owned along with his partner but they had since broken up, the council representative told the court

He signed a voluntary transfer order for the council to rehome the dog.

They were sent letters under caution but no response was received.

After hearing the prosecution facts, Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers said she felt ‘strongly’ that both defendants should be in attendance for the sentencing exercise.

The case was adjourned to the next departmental court day on March 18 ‘to bring it to a conclusion’.

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