'brink of death' | 

Tipperary family jailed for ‘one of the worst’ cases of animal cruelty ever seen

Katherine Reilly (71), Martin Reilly Snr (43) and Michael Reilly (27) have all been handed jail terms for the shocking abuse of 27 dogs – including 10 puppies.

Three family members receive jail terms and disqualifications from keeping animals after the rescue of 27 dogs from properties in County Tipperary. Photo: ISPCA.

Three family members receive jail terms and disqualifications from keeping animals after the rescue of 27 dogs from properties in County Tipperary. Photo: ISPCA.

Three family members receive jail terms and disqualifications from keeping animals after the rescue of 27 dogs from properties in County Tipperary. Photo: ISPCA.

Three family members receive jail terms and disqualifications from keeping animals after the rescue of 27 dogs from properties in County Tipperary. Photo: ISPCA.

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Three members of a Tipperary family have been jailed for committing “one of the worst” cases of cruelty against animals that inspectors have ever seen.

Katherine Reilly (71), Martin Reilly Snr (43) and Michael Reilly Jnr (27) have all been handed jail terms for the shocking abuse of 27 dogs – including 10 puppies – on land at Killeens, Ballinunty in Co. Tipperary.

Many of the dogs were chained to a house and nearby abandoned buildings when ISPCA inspectors visited with gardaí in the summer of 2021.

Three family members receive jail terms and disqualifications from keeping animals after the rescue of 27 dogs from properties in County Tipperary. Photo: ISPCA.

Some lived in metal cages, a cattle trailer, an open-ended shed, and one was left tied to a tree.

They were left starving and without clean water, the court heard, with many suffering from untreated wounds and parasitic disease.

One was found “on the brink of death and it was a miracle he was still alive,” an inspector said, while another had an injured neck from the chain embedding in its skin.

The case was described as “egregious” by Judge Brian O’Shea at Cashel District Court last Thursday, who said: “These dogs were living in conditions, as the saying goes, ‘not fit for a dog to live in’.

Three family members receive jail terms and disqualifications from keeping animals after the rescue of 27 dogs from properties in County Tipperary. Photo: ISPCA.

"The accused had no regard for animals or their welfare. Many of the animals needed veterinary attention but were left aggrievedly waiting.

"These dogs were starving, thirsty, living in urine and faeces.”

The 27 dogs removed from the properties included lurchers, Salukis, Belgian Malinois, a greyhound, a German Shepherd, and a Chihuahua.

They were left without clean drinking water, the court heard.

One lurcher dog had an old leg fracture, while another was heavily pregnant and severely underweight.

Three family members receive jail terms and disqualifications from keeping animals after the rescue of 27 dogs from properties in County Tipperary. Photo: ISPCA.

Many were suffering from parasitic disease and untreated wounds in what was “one of the worst cruelty cases” that ISPCA Inspector Alice Lacey has ever seen, she said.

“A total of 27 dogs were rescued, all in varying levels of neglect.

"One dog in particular was Ed, he was on the brink of death, and it was a miracle he was still alive.

"The welfare of these dogs had declined over a prolonged period, which culminated in a multitude of animal welfare issues that led to their removal and were brought into ISPCA care.

"It was extremely disheartening to think that these animals were left without their most basic needs.”

The three family members were handed a total of 13 months in jail sentences after pleading guilty to a combined eight charges under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

“This case lies on the upper range of gravity,” said Judge O’Shea at their sentencing last week.

"The accused turned a blind eye, and this didn’t happen overnight. The cruelty was long-term and ongoing, and the harm was significant.

"The aggravating factors include the sheer scale of cruelty and the number of animals removed.

"Katherine Reilly and Michael Reilly entered an early guilty plea, but I can’t attach the same weight to Martin Reilly Snr as he entered a late plea of guilty.

"I take into account family commitments and health issues, but this case is egregious”.

Katherine Reilly (71) was sentenced to one month imprisonment for three charges – all to run consecutively.

The younger Michael Reilly received a two month sentence to be served consecutively for two charges and Martin Reilly Snr was handed a two-month jail term for three charges to run consecutively.

All three are disqualified from keeping animals for 25-years and must pay €9,190 in costs.

"This case should lead as an example that there will be serious repercussions for anyone who chooses to neglect or treat animals in this manner, because we always have a choice,” Ms Lacey commented.

“When we choose to bring an animal into our lives, we take on the responsibility, commitment, and the legal obligation, which should never be underestimated or minimised in its importance.”


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