Sligo woman convicted of animal cruelty says she’s ‘as good as any vet’

Margaret Scanlon (52) told the judge she hadn’t a clue about farming and said the case was a “load of s***e”

Margaret Scanlon

Margaret Scanlon with a picture of her cow Polly at her home in Co. Sligo© Gary Ashe

Scanlon talking to our man Alan Sherry© Gary Ashe

Scanlon showed us the shed where the cow was kept© Gary Ashe

Alan SherrySunday World

A woman who told a judge she hadn’t a clue about farming when she found her guilty of animal cruelty offences said the case was a “load of s***e” and that she won’t pay the fine handed down from the court.

Margaret Scanlon (52), from Carrigans Upper, Ballymote, Co Sligo, lashed out at the judge, gardai and veterinary inspectors involved in the case when the Sunday World spoke to her at her home.

Scanlon, who said she was “as good as any vet”, claimed she had done nothing wrong despite being found guilty of three separate animal welfare offences in relation to a cow she owned which had to be put down.

Richard Allen, a now retired veterinary inspector with the Department of Agriculture, had told an earlier court hearing that he visited Scanlon’s farm on June 28, 2017 and found a black bovine female stretched on the floor of a shed without any natural or artificial light

Scanlon showed us the shed where the cow was kept© Gary Ashe

He said the cow was tied by a chain and while there was feed in the shed, the cow couldn’t avail of it because she was tied up.

He said the cow was emaciated, dehydrated and was suffering, so a decision was made to put her down.

Another officer with the department, John Cryan, said the cow was “in very poor condition” and it was “a complete case of animal neglect”.

Judge Sandra Murphy, who was shown pictures of the cow after it had been put down, described the incident as a “very serious case of animal neglect” at the sentencing hearing in Sligo District Court last week.

She fined Scanlon €250 in relation to three offences under the Animal Welfare Act in that she failed to provide feed for an animal, failed in her duty to protect the welfare of an animal, and that she did cause unnecessary suffering to an animal on June 28, 2017, at Carrigans Upper, Ballymote.

Judge Murphy had asked Scanlon to give an undertaking never to own animals again – but Scanlon refused and the judge instead barred her from ever owning animals again.

However, Scanlon was unrepentant when the Sunday World spoke to her this week.

Scanlon talking to our man Alan Sherry© Gary Ashe

“That’s a load of s***e. It’s all lies,” she claimed. “She [the judge] knew nothing about farming. We were total opposites.

“Me and her are totally incompatible. No matter what you say she wouldn’t listen to you at all — she’d say the opposite to what you tell her, it’s shocking — unless you hit her over the head with a mallet or something.

“It was s***e. I’ve been through this now since 2017. It’s been dragging on the whole time.”

Scanlon went on to make derogatory remarks about various different people involved in the case and said she regretted turning up for court.

“I regret going down now. It’s a farce. I’m not paying the fine,” she maintained.

Asked if she was concerned what would happen if she didn’t pay the fine, she said: “I don’t know. I don’t care.”

Scanlon then told a story about how her father chased a TV licence inspector away from the farm years ago.

“Daddy said to him ‘I have a sick woman now here in the house, you better be going quick.’ He flew it. He went quick. Daddy was great. He was a great farmer.”

Scanlon explained that she inherited the farm after her father died around 15 years ago. She said the Department of Agriculture previously seized a number of cows from her after her dad’s death.

“It all changed when dad died. Just after my father died they kept taking the cattle and selling them off, the Department, they’re out to get me every time.”

Margaret Scanlon with a picture of her cow Polly at her home in Co. Sligo© Gary Ashe

She continued to have a few cattle and said she bought the cow which was put down, who she called Polly, around three years ago.

“She was lovely, a total pet. You couldn’t be bad to them. It’s in my blood, the farm. I have a dog. He’s only a house dog around the place.”

She said she has considered getting more cattle, despite the court ordering her not to do so.

“If I really want to get cattle there’s nothing stopping me. I’ve land there, like. I don’t know what will happen if I do. I’m suffering with my teeth at the moment so I have to get them sorted [first].

“If I went in to the vets now and said ‘test these few cattle, I bought them’, I don’t know if they would. I’d go to a different vet. I’m trying to work it out in my head.

“You wouldn’t see too much cattle. Them auld Department f***ers are always coming and checking on them. There’s too much bureaucracy and red tape.” Scanlon showed us the small shed where Polly had been staying before being put down.

“It’s dark as a dungeon,” she said, as she led us into the barn pointing at the part where Polly was.

“She was here. I have it filled up now with s***e. Up there was where we had the cows. That wouldn’t look good now.

“Years ago this is how the barns were. You had two cows tied up there and two on the other side. That was how it was done in the old days and they’d be tied with chains and let them out in the springtime. They’d go around the house and smash and break things [if they weren’t chained].”

She said she had been feeding Polly but she was sick around the time of the inspection and hadn’t been eating her food.

“I was giving her feed. They said she was thin and that s***e. Ah she wanted a dose and to go out in the field but it was too wet. She wouldn’t go out in the rain.”

Despite the evidence given in court that she had been chained and Scanlon showing us how the cows were chained, she denied Polly was chained on the day.

“She wasn’t tied, she was just lying there.”

Despite the evidence given that Polly was ill and had to be put down, Scanlon doesn’t agree.

“There was nothing wrong with her really. I should have said ‘get out you’re not getting in here’. I beat myself up over it the whole time. I’m as good as any vet in my own way.”

She compared her legal struggles to that of teacher Enoch Burke.

“He’s just standing up for his religious beliefs. They’re out to get him. It’s kind of the same in a way. He’s a teacher, I’m a farmer.”

Scanlon admitted she got worked up in court at the judge during her sentencing hearing.

“The sergeant said ‘sit down and don’t say anything and I’ll do the talking’. Then she [the judge] said the wrong thing. She came out with the s**t again [about cruelty]. I jumped up.

“There was this copper there and I thought he was going to grab me. I was furious with what she said about cruelty. She said it was a horrible case.”

“It was horrible [having to go to court]. I gave my point of view that the animal would have lived.”

As well as giving out to the judge at the sentencing hearing Scanlon said she also ranted at the veterinary inspector when he visited the farm to put down Polly. “I ate him, I f***ed him out of it before he killed her. I couldn’t block him. He was hellbent on giving her the injection.

“He was fully convinced it was cruelty. He said ‘your father fed the cattle’. I ate him, there was a bit of colourful language.

“I’m €550 out of pocket now after that. I paid that for her, why would I kill her after buying her?”

Asked if she wanted to have more animals, she said: “Ah yeah, you’d like to. Just one or two, keep the numbers down.”

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