Couple banned from keeping animals after mental and physical abuse of dog
A man and a woman who kept their dog in an outdoor pen and subjected her to cruel beatings have been disqualified from keeping animals for five years.
Michael Cross and Paige Ryan from Barry appeared at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 28 November after both pleading guilty to one offence under the Animal Welfare Act.
This offence was that between 1 July 2022 and 31 August 2022 at Porthkerry Road, Barry, they caused unnecessary suffering to a female bulldog called Luna by the infliction of physical and/or emotional abuse.
Living in a pen
At the sentencing hearing they were disqualified from keeping all animals for five years, and were ordered to undertake an 18 month community order. Cross was ordered to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work and Ryan was ordered to undertake 180 hours. Both were ordered to pay £250 costs each.
In her written statement – provided to the court – RSPCA inspector Christine McNeil said that on 14 September 2022 she began looking into allegations made regarding the ill treatment of a dog living in a pen in the rear garden of the ground floor flat of Porthkerry Road, Barry. It followed the RSPCA receiving a number of pieces of footage from members of the public.
Enquiries found that the male and female who had lived at the property had since moved.
On Wednesday 14 December 2022 she attended Osprey Court in Barry with police and met Cross and Ryan and explained to them that she was investigating potential offences that had taken place in the summer in relation to the dog called Luna and the ill treatment of her by both of them.
Inspector McNeil also met another man – who was Luna’s new owner – as she had already been re-housed by Cross.
“I noted that the dog Luna was in reasonable bodily condition although when she was stroked, she would put her back end down to the ground when her back was stroked,” said inspector McNeil.
“She seemed quite nervous to be touched although would approach people including Mr Cross and Ms Ryan.”
Punched in the head
Luna was examined by a vet with inspector McNeil stating: “I noted that Luna seemed more uncomfortable in a confined room and when people entered she would put her head down and have wide eyes and if people approached she would put her head down and lower her body like she was going to try and run away.
“I also noted that if I tried to encourage her to come towards me, she wouldn’t and would put her head down and have big eyes and she looked scared and nervous.”
In an independent expert veterinary report into the health and welfare of Luna after being shown the video footage, the vet said: “It is my expert opinion that if the court accepts the accounts provided by the witnesses as accurate and truthful then the dog Luna was caused to suffer unnecessarily as a consequence of being beaten by both defendants.”
He said: “Both defendants were, according to the statements provided to me, directly observed to hit Luna with Mr Cross being observed to punch her in the head a number of times and Miss Ryan being observed hitting her with a stick whilst in the enclosure. Clearly these actions will have caused Luna pain and also were intended to cause her pain as they were an attempt at disciplining her for unwanted barking.
“In addition to these occasions when the defendants were directly observed to hit Luna there were a number of occasions when one or other defendant was with Luna in the garden of the property and a slapping noise was heard immediately followed by Luna yelping.
“It is in my expert opinion extremely unlikely that Luna would react in such a manner in response to someone hitting the side of the enclosure with a stick unless she has developed a significant negative association with the stick and resulting pain which would only occur if she had regularly been beaten with the stick over a prolonged period of time.”
He added: “The veterinary examination conducted found no direct supportive evidence of Luna being subjected to intentional violence. This does not surprise me as the level of violence described would not have resulted in permanent injury to Luna but would have resulted in the development of pain, inflammation and bruising.
“This would however have resolved by the time Luna was presented to the veterinary practice particularly as I am instructed that Luna had been rehomed and hence was no longer being subjected to violent behaviours.”
Following the case, inspector McNeil said: “Unfortunately Luna sustained this physical and emotional abuse on several occasions which is just completely unacceptable.
“I’d like to thank South Wales Police for their assistance along with the witnesses who provided the statements and video footage. This must have been very traumatic for them to witness and we very much thank them for supporting our investigation.”
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