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Hound of silence Woman had her dog put down rather than face nuisance barking case in court

"There's two sides to every story," Geraldine O'Loughlin snapped. But when asked what her side was, she closed the door in our reporter's face

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Geraldine O’Loughlin told the court that she had the dog put down

Geraldine O’Loughlin told the court that she had the dog put down

Geraldine O’Loughlin told the court that she had the dog put down

This is the pet owner who had her 'German Shepherd-like' dog put down rather than face allegations in court she had allowed it nuisance bark for an incredible 11 years.

Geraldine O'Loughlin's home in Ballycoree, on the Gort Road in Ennis, Co Clare, is located to the front of put-upon neighbour Shane Shannon's property.

Ennis District Court heard this week how the barking of O'Loughlin's dog would go on all day "for two-and-a-half-hour periods at a time".

And that when Shane attempted to raise his concerns over the barking with Ms O'Loughlin, she told him "that is what dogs do. Sure, what harm is it".

Mr Shannon told the court: "She laughed into my face."

O'Loughlin did not enter an appearance in court to defend herself against a surrender order for the animal this week after emailing the court registrar to say she wouldn't attend "as the animal had been put down".

We called to O'Loughlin's home on Friday to see if she would speak to us about the barking-mad controversy.

But O'Loughlin gave our reporter little opportunity to get his questions in.

"There's two sides to every story," she snapped after our reporter identified himself.

But when asked what her side was, she closed the door in his face.

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Reporter Patrick O’Connell talks with Geraldine O’Loughlin

Reporter Patrick O’Connell talks with Geraldine O’Loughlin

Reporter Patrick O’Connell talks with Geraldine O’Loughlin

Shane Shannon, who declined to be pictured for this article, told the Sunday World he was upset when he learned O'Loughlin had the dog put down.

But, he said, now for the first time in his 11 years living in the property, he has been able to go out in his garden and enjoy the peace and quiet.

"Do you hear that?" he asked … as he stood out in his back garden.

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"That's the sound of nothing - the first time in 11 years I have been able to stand outside in my back garden without listening to that poor animal barking.

"And that's only because I went to court to stop all that noise."

Asked how bad the noise was, Shane said: "The duration of the barking could go on all day.

"So, you are talking from 7am or 8am … you'd get an hour burst here or there and then you'd get a two-and-a-half-hour burst.

"That dog barked as much as he had energy to bark.

"He'd literally wear himself out and then he'd start again.

"I played some of the clips to the court and even in the court they could hear how loud he was because he was such a big dog."

Shane, who moved in next-door to O'Loughlin 11 years ago, told the Sunday World that initially the dogs barking had not annoyed him as he spent a huge amount of time away from home.

"I used to work away a lot.

"I worked with the Marine Institute in Galway and I was out at sea a lot and by the time I'd get home in the evening, I was so busy I didn't even notice it.

"But I changed my lifestyle after lockdown and I developed horticulture as my new thing and so I was spending a lot more time at home."

Asked how many times he would have approached O'Loughlin about the dog, Shane said a few before adding: "Look, I am a very patient man.

"I went through chemotherapy for a year and while I was here at home I had to listen to the dog bark non-stop.

"And it was at the end of the chemotherapy and recovery that I went over to explain the situation to her.

"And basically, it kept going on and on.

"So, basically, on four different occasions I went over and had a talk about the dog.

"And to be honest, I got nowhere.

"The reaction was belligerence, an attitude of what's the big deal?

"I explained I'd been through chemotherapy and had to listen to that dog every day in recovery but nothing - I was in tears over it at times."

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Geraldine O’Loughlin’s pet was a German Shepherd-like dog (stock image)

Geraldine O’Loughlin’s pet was a German Shepherd-like dog (stock image)

Geraldine O’Loughlin’s pet was a German Shepherd-like dog (stock image)

Shane said one of the things that bothered him most about the barking was that he believed the animal was barking because it wanted or needed something. but whatever it was, it simply wasn't being given to it.

"I was very upset for the dog while all this was going on," he said.

"I would never have wanted or asked for the animal to be put down.

"I love animals and I have worked with animals all my life.

"I'm a marine biologist amongst other things.

"But the dog was lacking for something … and it simply wasn't been given what it needed.

"I would even have taken that dog .. he was an old dog … it wouldn't have been a big long commitment.

"He deserved to a have a good home

"The dog's life was lacking in some way," Mr Shannon said.

At Ennis District Court this week, in spite O'Loughlin's email stating the animal had been put down, Judge Mary Larkin directed she deliver her 'German Shepherd-like' dog to the Dog Warden.

Judge Larkin made the order under a little-known provision of the Control of Dogs Act 1986 where a judge can make an order requiring the elimination of a nuisance caused by the "excessive barking" of an 'unwanted dog'.

At the outset of the case, Judge Larkin said that the court registrar received an email from Ms O'Loughlin stating that she wouldn't be coming to court as the dog has been put down.

However, Shane Shannon said that he would prefer to press ahead with the case stating, "I don't trust anything she says".

Shane told the court that the dog met the definition of an 'unwanted dog' under the Act, stating that the dog "hasn't got much affection and I would say he is lonely and not cared for".

He said: "To be honest, it is immensely upsetting to listen to an animal like that. He is fed twice a day, when food is thrown out the back door to him. I never hear anyone playing with the dog or saying hello to the dog."

Mr Shannon said that the dog was never brought outside the garden over the past 11 years and was never brought into the home.

Asked by Judge Larkin what is the dog's name, Mr Shannon said: "I never heard the dog being called by its name or heard anyone being nice to the dog."

Speaking to the Sunday World, Shane said he was speaking out because he believed there were probably hundreds of homeowners across the country trapped in situations identical to his.

"I just want people to know there is a simple and easy mechanism for dealing with a situation like this."

Asked how relations with O'Loughlin have been in the wake of the case, he responded: "There are none, which I'm quite happy about … and you can quote me on that."

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