Woman convicted of cruelty to dogs who were described as ‘ravenous’ after finding toast in bin

Four Cavachon dogs were heavily matted and most of which appeared extremely underweight

A woman from Co Tipperary has been ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service in lieu of a three-month custodial sentence after being convicted of cruelty to dogs.

Bridget Skehan (51) of Oakfield Drive, Thurles, Co Tipperary appeared before Judge Elizabeth McGrath at Thurles District Court last Tuesday, having previously admitted charges under sections 11, 12 and 13 of the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 (AHWA).

During an earlier hearing on November 21st last, senior inspector for the ISPCA Alice Lacey gave evidence of calling to the accused’s home on July 19th 2022, and viewing four Cavachon dogs that were heavily matted and most of which appeared extremely underweight.

She described how the dogs were ravenous for a piece of toast that they found in a bin.


Ms Skehan surrendered the dogs to the ISPCA immediately and they were taken for veterinary assessment where it was confirmed that three of the four dogs were very thin with body condition scores as low as 1 out of 5.

The vet was of the view that this was the result of prolonged starvation.

A probation report was presented to Judge McGrath, which suggested that the defendant was “at a moderate risk of reoffending”.

The court heard that the accused was of limited means and was only able to raise the sum of €150 towards prosecution costs.

Convicting the defendant, Judge McGrath ordered that she complete 100 hours of community service in lieu of a three-month custodial sentence. She also imposed a disqualification order of five years from owning or having interest in any dog, stating that she felt that Ms Skehan was incapable of taking care of any dogs, at least for the next five years. It was instructed that the €150 produced in court be handed over as a contribution towards costs.

“Emily, Ellie, Earl and Elmo turned out to be the most loving, loyal and resilient dogs, despite their previous circumstances. To see them in those conditions on that day in July 2022 stayed with me for a long time,” senior inspector Lacey said.

“Being indifferent towards an animal’s suffering means that we feel it’s okay to look the other way. Looking the other way shows a clear disregard for our legal and moral responsibility, but doing so does not make us exempt from the consequences. It can and should make us accountable for our actions,” she said.

The ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline can be reached on: 0818 515 515.

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Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times