early plea | 

Mum-of-three convicted of running illegal puppy farm out of council home

Eleven female pups found among 21 dogs kept at property as judge fines woman ¤400 for failing to register house as a breeding establishment

Ann McGarry in Tullamore court in relation to operating an illegal dog breeding establishment.

Patrick O'Connell

MEET the mum-of-three convicted of running an illegal puppy farm out of her council-owned home.

Birr woman Anne McGarry was discovered to have 21 dogs on the property, 11 of whom were females eligible for breeding - when it was searched by Offaly County Council's veterinary inspector Aidan Grant on October 21 last year.

McGarry appeared before Judge Patricia Cronin at Tullamore District Court on Monday where she pleaded guilty to a charge of operating an illegal dog breeding establishment at 77 High St on the same date.

Appearing on behalf of Offaly County Council, solicitor Emily Mahon outlined how on that date, a search was carried out on foot of warrant obtained by Offaly County Council on the defendant's property at 77 High Street Birr, Co Offaly.

"On this date," she said, "a total of 21 dogs were found at the semi-detached property which is owned by Offaly County Council at which the respondent is a tenant."

She said of these 11 were females eligible for breeding.

The keeping of more than six eligible breeding females requires that a property be registered as a dog breeding establishment under the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010, the court was told.

Having heard an outline of the facts, Judge Cronin asked whether Ms McGarry had any previous convictions relating to the keeping of dogs.

Veterinary inspector Mr Grant was called to the stand.

He said Ms McGarry had no convictions, but there had been formal correspondence issued to remind her of her obligation to register as a dog-breeding establishment for several years prior to the search being carried out.

Ms McGarry's solicitor then addressed the court, saying that his client had since reduced the number of dogs being kept at the property and was compliant with the relevant legislation.

He repeated that she had no previous convictions.

"She is a 55-year-old lady with three children," he said.

"She loves her dogs and had more than she should have had."

Asked what kind of dogs the defendant had been keeping, he replied that they were Golden Retrievers.

Under the Dog-Breeding Establishments Act, a person convicted in the District Court can face a maximum fine of €5,000 or up to six months in prison.

But Judge Cronin said there was a number of factors she had to take into account.

These included, she said, the defendant's early plea and the fact that she had no previous convictions.

She also noted that the defendant had been co-operative following the inspection and had since reduced the number of dogs present at the property.

Convicting McGarry, she imposed a fine of €400 giving her four months to pay.

Costs of €150 were also imposed.

Ms McGarry is the latest in a series of illegal puppy farmers to have been prosecuted before the courts in Offaly.

In March, Maureen Mahon, the mother of State solicitor Sandra Mahon, was prosecuted for the same offence.

Tullamore District Court was told Maureen had ran an unregistered puppy farm for more than a decade due to 'a complete ignorance of the law'.

In total, Mahon Snr had 44 'eligible bitches' removed from her car.

The 71-year-old was hit with a fine of €1,600 and costs of €700 after she pleaded guilty to running an unregistered dog breeding establishment.

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