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Man who killed 11-year-old dog by kicking it with steel toe boots jailed for one month

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has hailed the first jail term imposed under a new law strengthening penalties for cruelty.

The ISPCA acclamation follows a sentence of one month imposed on Friday night on a man who kicked a beautiful Pomeranian dog less than 10 inches tall in the belly with steel-capped boots and sent him through the air several feet into a ditch.

The 11-year-old dog called Millie died in an animal hospital nine days later.

Ballyshannon District Court heard a vet’s report that the dog died of sudden and severe trauma probably caused by a kick.

The court heard Millie was attacked by bearded 53-year-old father of one Martin McGonigle during an angry exchange with the pet’s 73-year-old owner Patsy Quinn and his son Kevin near Ballyshannon.

Judge Kevin Kilrane imposed a one-month sentence for cruelty and causing unnecessary harm to the dog last February. He also fined McGonigle, of Belleek, Co. Fermanagh, €300 for assaulting Patsy Quinn and causing him harm.

Later on Friday night McGonigle was freed on bail pending appeal.

ISPCA senior animal welfare inspector for the north-west Kevin McGinley issued a statement welcoming the sentence, the first under the Animal Health and Welfare Act of 2013.

He said: “This sentence sends out a very clear message that animal abuse will not be tolerated. We congratulate the gardai for their action in bringing this case to its conclusion.”

Mr McGinley, who is based in Donegal, added: “To lose a family pet from natural circumstances can be heart-breaking, but to lose a pet in these circumstances must be devastating.”

The introduction of the Act gives judges more stringent sanctions against animal cruelty – increasing penalties from a fine of €1,907 and/or six months to €5,000 and/or six months.

The court heard Mr Quinn of The Knather, Ballyshannon, was struck in the face and the dog was kicked in a dispute with McGonigle who drove by and complained the Quinn jeep and trailer was blocking a narrow road when they were cutting timber nearby.

Mr Quinn fought back tears as he told the court that Millie, who was only nine and half inches tall and weighed 7.5 kilogrammes, went towards McGonigle “as dogs do” and “sniffed” around him.

Mr Quinn said: “He in turn lifted his boot and kicked her in the belly and cascaded her into the ditch.”

Judge Kevin Kilrane observed before sentencing: “A man over six feet tall with steel-tipped boots kicked a dog like a ball. He said an 11-year-old Pomeranian was vicious and he did what he had to do to get it out of the way.

“This man is quite dangerous when his temper is raised. He concocted a story which is a tissue of lies.”

Mr Quinn, who buried Millie in a grave in his front garden, yesterday(Sat) paid tribute to vet Nick Garvey of Old Church Veterinary Hospital, Ballyshannon.

He said: “He fought for nine days in a desperate attempt to save our pet. He was up night and day caring for poor Millie but unfortunately we lost her.”

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