USPCA calls for tougher sentence in cruelty case

Court image
Court image

The USPCA has claimed the suspended sentence given to a Banbridge man who fed a live hen to his dog, didn’t go far enough.

The USPCA’s David Wilson said the two month prison sentence, suspended for two years, handed to Kevin Dale, of Grove Hill, Banbridge, was an ‘opportunity missed’.

“Even though there is a custodial sentence, I’d rather see the person banned from keeping animals,” Mr Wilson said.

“I don’t know why the sentence was suspended, I’d like to see more people spend time behind bars and given time to consider their actions.

“The person should have been banned from keeping all types of animals for a very long time; that’s an opportunity missed,” he added.

Banbridge Magistrates Court heard last week that 28-year-old Dale tried to ‘blood’ a dog ‘he got from gypsies’ by feeding it a live hen.

At a previous court hearing, Dale admitted without lawful excuse destroying a chicken on February 14 this year.

The case had been adjourned so that the judge could get more information about the dog and hear from the investigating officer.

The court heard that at 10.25pm police were alerted about a man with a dog trying to take hens from a coop. The dog was located a short distance away.

The witness said that a hen had been taken and fed, live, to the dog.

The dog was impounded and the defendant made himself known to staff.

When interviewed Dale said he had been out hunting with the dog when it escaped from him.

He denied prising open the lid of the coop and said the dog was strong enough to
do that.

A police officer told the court that it was the police view was that the defendant ‘tried to blood the animal’.

District Judge, Mr Paul Copeland, said this was ‘a Lurcher he got from the gypsies’.

A barrister representing Dale said that he would say the dog leaped the fence.

He explained that the defendant only had the dog a short time and got it from ‘a gypsy friend’.

Judge Copeland said Dale had a ‘not insignificant’ record but he would take into account the nature of the charge.

He added that the defendant’s conduct at worst was criminally cruelly and at least criminally irresponsible.

The judge sentenced Dale to two months in prison, suspended for two years, fined him £200 and ordered him to pay £12 compensation.

The USPCA’s David Wilson said he believed the actions were carried out by Dale to lead the dog into badger baiting.

“Dog fighting is not very high on the agenda in the Banbridge area,” he said. “I’d say badger baiting is more likely.

“Dogs, like terriers, are encouraged to dig the badger out and lurchers would be used for killing. Lurcher’s and pit bull’s would kill the badger after it is removed from the sett.

“Not only was this an act of cruelty on the chicken, the person showed a disregard for the dog’s welfare, to feed a live chicken to a dog, it was running the risk of choking on chicken bones.

“I’d have liked to have seen this person banned from keeping animals for a considerable period of time,” Mr Wilson concluded.

An Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council spokesperson said that the dog has since been safely rehomed.