Facing up to cruelty to animals.

No more ‘blind eye’ justice as two gets jail

Evening Herald, 13/04/1999

These are the pictures of wanton cruelty which will put two men behind bars for 30 days. A German shepherd lying in its own excrement, dehydrated, unable to stand and a pit bull terrier, a quarter its normal weight, shocked and dying.

  The landmark sentence dished out yesterday to the two Dublin men have been praised by the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which brought the men to court.


But, today DSPCA Chief Inspector Maurice Byrne said these cases were only “the tip of the iceberg. There are cases like this all over the country”.

  He accused a large group of Irish people of “treating their animals like pieces of furniture, as if they have no feelings and can’t suffer pain”.

  Thomas Conway of Ashwood Drive, Clondalkin and William Murphy of Stanaway Road, Crumlin were each sentenced to 30 days imprisonment and banned from keeping dogs as pets for 10 years.

  Judge James McDonnell described the cases as “shocking” and “atrocious” in the Dublin District Court and slammed them as “wanton neglect”.

  The suffering of these two dogs is not unique. Inspector Byrne notices a sharp increase in cruelty to animals in recent years and says it has reached the stage where “I’d never be surprised about what people can do.

  “Cruelty is right across the spectrum and it’s not confined to any particular age group.”

He gives the example of two Doberman dogs found starving and riddled with skin diseases “in the home of a near millionaire”.


Typical examples of cruelty are the dog with a rope around its neck which had been left there so long, the skin had grown over and gangrene set in,

  Or the car which stopped in Ringsend where someone took a dog from the back and beat it savagely on the footpath. Luckily the society has been given the car registration.

  The DSPCA is snowed under with cruelty cases. “Some days we definitely cannot cope with the work load and we have to prioritise.”


The calls vary from the horror of someone ramming a spike up a dog’s anus to the old person living alone whose dog has died and who doesn’t want to part with the body.

  Not all cases of animal cruelty are deliberate.

  “You get people who, through ignorance or stupidity, let a dog continue to lose weight.

  “Some people are living in such poor circumstances they can’t feed themselves never mind the dog.

  “This is not unusual. There is a lot of poverty in the city.

  “Irish people keep to themselves. They put up a front. Sometimes when you’re called to a house you’d find there isn’t a stick of furniture in the place.”

Inspector Byrne is “delighted” with the outcome of yesterday’s court cases and hope they will “send a signal to all cruel pet owners”.

  Vet Peter McMahon who examined both dogs said the pit bull terrier was one of the worst cases of ill-treatment he had ever come across.

  The German Shepherd had to be lifted out of his garden over a neighbour’s wall on a door used as a make-shift stretcher.

  Both dogs had to be put down because their pain was so great they had no chance of recovery.

  Inspector Robert Kenny of the DSPCA hope the sentences will “send a signal to the people who do this kind of thing, that they won’t get away with it”.


Under new laws someone who is cruel to an animal can be sentenced for up to six months and can be fined up to £1,500.

  The organisation gets calls from all kinds of people.

  “It might be a neighbour. It could be the coalman or the milkman who spots something.

  “Irish people have this thing about squealing. They don’t like ratting and telling and often they wouldn’t call us until the dogs are eating each other from starvation or a dog has died.

  “Everything that comes in here is confidential. In fact we have to keep handwritten records because if they were on computer people would be entitled to see them under the Data Protection laws and that would break the confidentiality.”

There are lots of malicious calls too.

  “We get them every day. Fighting neighbours sometimes use us to get at each other by making a malicious callout.”

Once the organisation gets a call out, they keep a record on the books and make regular checks.

DSPCA’s grim report

In the first three hours of a typical morning the DSPCA got eight cruelty callouts, including:

  1. A dog who kept locked in a cage all day long;
  2. A dog with a rope so long on its neck the skin was gangrenous;
  3. A pony on a green space being stoned with a large visible sore on its back;
  4. A mare with foal tied to ESM pole for the past five days without water;
  5. Two horses tied up for the last week and left without food or water;
  6. Caller worried about two security dogs locked in a cage in well known hospital;
  7. Caller worried about sheep left in a field without water and now missing;
  8. Report of pet shop selling four week old puppies separated from their mother too early;