Pets found in neglect after house raided

Pets found in neglect after house raided

10 April 2019

A DISTRICT judge has said that a Comber couple kept pets in conditions which “fell below the standard required”.

At Downpatrick Court on Monday Frederick and Cathy Long were convicted of four charges relating to the care of animals at their Darragh Gardens home.

The court heard how an animal welfare officer from Ards and North Down Borough Council called at the house on May 16, 2016, following allegations it was being used as a puppy farm and a German Shepherd dog had been killed and dumped in a bin.

Two Jack Russell puppies were found in a cupboard under the stairs and a cat was locked in a cage in the kitchen with no access to water. Other cages with ground-in faeces were found.

However, the Longs refused the officer permission to carry out a fuller search of the house.

Two council officers, this timed armed with a search warrant, returned to the house a week later.

Both officers gave evidence that they saw Cathy Long passing dogs out of the kitchen window to her husband.

When they searched the back garden they saw a “dreadful picture of neglect” in which a miniature goat was being confined in poor grazing conditions amid old petrol cans and oil containers and chewing on a plastic pallet.

The goat had no access to water or shelter. They also found two chihuahua dogs kept in a dirty wendy house. 

Inside the house the officers found the two Jack Russell puppies in a dirty, rusty cage with no access to water.

A vet who visited the house said the animals were being kept in “sub-optimal conditions”.

The couple appeared in court charged with three counts of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of the animals were met. They also faced one charge of obstructing the council officers. They denied all charges.

Frederick Long claimed that one of the council officers held a long-standing grudge against him and had “planted” the Jack Russell puppies in his house. He further alleged that the Chihuahuas belonged to his son and that the goat belonged to his daughter’s boyfriend.

He claimed that he had been unable to fill up the water bowls because his father was taken into hospital.

Cathy Long claimed one of the officer was “maybe lying” and alleged she could not have passed the dogs out of the window because the kitchen worktop was too wide.

Convicting the couple of all charges, District Judge Greg McCourt said all animals should have access to water and that the conditions that the animals were kept in “fell below the standard required”.

He said efforts by the council officers to carry out searches had been hindered. 

Judge McCourt deferred sentencing until May 10 pending a pre-sentence report. He also banned the couple from keeping animals pending sentencing.