Dog starved to death in empty property

The emaciated dog which was found starved to death. Picture: Mark Jamieson
The emaciated dog which was found starved to death. Picture: Mark Jamieson

A woman has been given a suspended jail term for animal cruelty.

Antrim woman Aleisha McLaverty (23) admitted a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a Labrador last year.

Aleshia McLaverty, leaves Antrim Court after pleading guilty to dog cruelty by leaving a dog at a house in Antrim. The dog was found dead later tangled in blind cords and suffered from dehydration.  Picture: Mark Jamieson

Aleshia McLaverty, leaves Antrim Court after pleading guilty to dog cruelty by leaving a dog at a house in Antrim. The dog was found dead later tangled in blind cords and suffered from dehydration. Picture: Mark Jamieson

McLaverty - whose address was given as Firmount Drive - had originally pleaded not guilty to the offence earlier this year, but had changed her plea at a subsequent hearing.

Antrim Magistrates Court then heard today that when probation reports were compiled for sentencing, McLaverty had said she had not been living in the property and had sub-let to her sister.

It was added that a previous court hearing, Deputy District Judge Holmes had vacated the guilty plea as a result of this admission and had redirected the case to proceed as a contest.

McLaverty’s barrister said his client was now prepared to plead guilty.

He outlined that there had been a family breakdown between his client and her sister.

“Her sister is connected to that address; there was unopened post for her and her sister,” Mr Thompson said.

He added: “[My client] accepts some level of responsibility.

“She knew the dog was there and did very little about it.”

Bringing the prosecution on behalf of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Prosecutor Mr Irvine outlined that animal welfare officers, accompanied by police had been tasked to a property in Firmount Drive on April 29 last year following a report from a member of the public about a dog left in the property.

On entering the property, there was a pungent smell, dog faeces, rubbish and flies.

A severely emaciated Labrador type dog was found hanging upside down from a blind in the living room.

Muscle was visible from where the cord was cutting into the neck.

Mr Irvine said that there was no food or water for the dog, and the toilet bowl was empty from the dog drinking from it.

He added that there was evidence of the dog scratching food containers.

A post mortem was carried out which says the dog had died from dehydration and starvation.

He said McLaverty was interviewed on July 30 and denied any knowledge of the dog being in the house and said she had been living with her mother at the time.

Outlining the defence case, Mr Thompson said it was a case of “passive neglect”.

He said the investigating officer had noted unopened post to both McLaverty and her sister at the address.

Mr Thompson added that McLaverty has since had a baby and Social Services were now involved with the family as a result of the case.

He added that McLaverty was of previous good character and had a clear record.

District Judge Alan White said that McLaverty was entitled to credit for her guilty plea and for her clear record.

He said that looking at immediate custody as a starting point, combined with her plea and clear record led him to suspending the sentence.

McLaverty was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Mr White also banned McLaverty from keeping animals for five years.

She was also ordered to pay £119 court costs.