Dog pound whistleblower ‘disgusted’ owner fined only €30k for illegal use of euthanasia drug

“It’s pocket change given the value of the contracts Ashton Dog Pound had on its books. It’s not a proper punishment in my book”

Conor Williamson reported concerns

Ashton Dog Pound

David Stone the owner of the Ashton Dog Pound

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

The whistleblower who alerted gardaí to the illegal use of a euthanasia drug on dogs at Ashton Dog Pound has said he is disgusted its owner was fined just €30,000, out of a possible €500,000 fine, when he appeared in court this week.

But, said Conor Williamson, the prosecution of David Stone in the Circuit Criminal Court has again shown he was ‘vindicated’ in blowing the whistle on the illegal use of Pentobarbital on animals in the Dublin pound.

The fine was given to Stone – whose contract with Dublin City Council alone was worth €277,000 – after the court heard how two dogs died after staff administered the drug – which was “commonly administered orally to animals by putting it in their food.”

The maximum penalty for the offences was a three-year prison term and €500,000 fine.

Ashton Dog Pound

“As regards the fine handed down this week, €30,000, I’m absolutely disgusted by it,” Conor told the Sunday World.

“It’s pocket change given the value of the contracts Ashton Dog Pound had on its books. It’s not a proper punishment in my book.”

In October of last year, Conor was awarded €18,000 by the Workplace Relations Commission after it found he was ‘penalised’ in his employment at Ashton Dog Pound after he reported ‘animal welfare and veterinary pharmaceutical offences’.

The award is being appealed by Ashton Dog Pound.

“My primary concern was always the welfare of the animals,” said Conor. “At the end of the day, it was the right thing to do, even though I suffered greatly for coming forward.”

At Stone’s sentencing hearing, Garda Eine McQuillan said gardaí were contacted by a dog warden at the pound over the weekend of July 24, 2020, to alert them to the fact that two dogs, a Bichon Frise and an Akita, had been administered the euthanasia drug – Pentobarbital – and the dogs had not been visited by a vet.

The dog warden was concerned for the animals as they were in a bad state. The gardaí called to the pound and Stone was there when they arrived. By that point, one of the dogs had died and the second dog was very unwell.

The gardaí took this animal to the UCD veterinary clinical where it was put down in a more humane way, the court heard.

Gda McQuillan said that on arrival at the pound, gardaí found the drug in an unlocked box.

She said there was a full bottle of the drug and a small amount in a second bottle, totalling over 350ml.

David Stone the owner of the Ashton Dog Pound

The garda said 5ml of the drug was enough to kill a dog and if a small amount of the drug came into contact with human skin it could be fatal.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that David Stone, aged 65, had been running Ashton Dog Pound in Dublin since 1996 and had contracts with local councils including Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown county councils.

Stone pleaded guilty to using a premises for supply of an animal remedy contrary to various European regulations, possession of an animal remedy designated “veterinary practitioner only” and causing or permitting the administration of an animal remedy contrary to the same regulations on 24 July 2020.

Various statements were taken from staff at the pound, who outlined that the drugs were kept in an unlocked box at the receptionist desk of the pound.

The drugs were commonly administered orally to animals by putting it in their food.

Gda McQuillan said that Stone had been contracted by Dublin City Council and the contract was worth €277,000. This contract ended in March last year and although he went for re-tender, it was not successful.

Mr Carroll told the court that the maximum penalty for the offence was a three-year prison term and €500,000 fine.​

Judge Martin Nolan said a very lethal substance had been held where it should not have been and it was being administered by untrained staff when it should have been administered by a vet.

Judge Nolan fined Stone €30,000.

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