Dog owners who keep their pets locked up or tied up for long portions of the day are guilty of a form of cruelty said Judge Neilan as he heard how a dog bit the hand of an 8-year-old child in Mullingar.
Phillip Purcell of Anneville, Gaybrook pleaded guilty to possession of an uncontrolled dog which bit a child visiting a nearby house just before Christmas.
The dog had been tied up all day and let loose just after it had been fed. He had never bitten before.
The brown and white cocker springer spaniel was described by neighbours as very protective and while they had never had problems before, they wouldn’t feel safe around it.
The boy had been helping his father in the back garden of a nearby house and they had been aware of the dog all day. However, as the child was bringing his father’s tools to the front of the house, the dog grabbed his hand and wouldn’t let go.
The judge said he understood dogs have a “special place” in lots of houses but said anyone who has any responsibility for a dog must have an appropriate kennel built with sufficient area for the dog to exercise in.
“I take grave exception that anyone would keep a dog tied up for hour with no one around,” he said and commented that the dog had no muzzle and was then given “free reign”.
He described it as “cruelty” to keep a dog confined or “cooped up,” and pointed out that springer spaniels, which are bred for hunting “need a wide range for exercise”.
Anyone who wants to have a dog should exercise it for at least an hour a day, he said and asked how Mr Purcell would feel if he was “tied to a stake, day in, day out”.
Having a dog “cooped up in the backyard and tied to a gatepost is cruelty of the first order,” he said noting that locals did not feel safe around the dog. He was also critical of parents of small children who don’t report uncontrolled dogs to the warden because they are afraid of falling out of favour with their neighbours.
“That a child was mauled and could have been mauled to death is of little consequence,” he observed.
He said the boy would now be “cautious of dogs for many years”
“People don’t seem to understand the impact on a child is immense”.
Mr Purcell is to be given time to show that his kennelling is adequate, that the dog is kept muzzled at all times in future and is not outside without being under the control of a person over 18. Otherwise consideration will have to be given to having the animal put down.
The judge further added that he finds people who own dogs are often “highly irresponsible”.
“The majority in every village or town treat them like princes” and they “allow them to defecate on the footpath”, he said, adding that “there is nothing more offensive”.
They feel their dogs “should be entitled to grace every green patch with urine and defecation and councillors won’t open their mouths because they’re afraid they won’t get a vote from Joe Soap.
When Mr Purcell appears before the court again on October 9 he is to have a proposal for compensation and the victim’s father is to have provided a medical report.