A local man and woman have been handed a prison sentence for causing unnecessary suffering to 100 pigeons.
Edward Mulholland of Ballinderry Road, Lisburn and Mrs Gillian Mulholland of Causeway End Road, Lisburn were last week sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay costs totalling £1,006 each after being previously convicted of two offences under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.
The charges related to pigeons belonging to Mr Mulholland which were kept at Causeway End Road, Mrs Mulholland’s home address.
Initially, arrangements were made for a third party to attend to the birds’ needs but this was halted and neither party made alternative arrangements to care for the birds.
At the time of the initial visit to the address by the council’s Animal Welfare Officer 44 dead pigeons were found with a further 56 seized after a vet confirmed that they were suffering. Five of these subsequently died despite veterinary intervention.
No food or water was found in the lofts in which the pigeons were kept. Post mortem examination of a sample of the dead pigeons confirmed they had died due to dehydration and/or starvation.
District Judge Rosie Watters banned both parties from keeping any animal for a period of five years.
Mr Mulholland confirmed to the court that he intended to appeal the conviction and sentence.
The pigeons will be kept by the Animal Welfare Service pending the appeal but Mr Mulholland provided the court with an undertaking that he would pay the further costs of keeping the animals until the appeal is concluded.
The prosecution was brought by Lisburn City Council. A spokesperson for the council said: “The council gives a high priority to the welfare of domestic pets and horses and operates a rigorous enforcement policy to ensure full compliance of regulatory requirements.
“Complaints are investigated thoroughly and where necessary offenders are prosecuted.”