Veterinary inspector banned from keeping dogs for seven years after neglect conviction

Michael O’Reilly kept 10 terriers at his kennels in Cork, which were found surrounded by mounds of faeces

A veterinary inspector has been banned from keeping dogs for seven years and ordered to pay €9,000 in fines and costs after he was convicted of failing to look after the welfare of 10 terriers who were found living in their own faeces at kennels that he owned.

Michael O’Reilly, a veterinary inspector with the Department of Agriculture, pleaded guilty to seven breaches of the Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013, in relation to 10 dogs that he kept at his kennels at Killamuckey, Mogeely, Castlemartyr, Co Cork, on two dates in May 2023.

O’Reilly from Primrose Banks, Cois Maigh, Mogeely, Castlemartyr, was convicted by Judge Colm Roberts at Midleton District Court of the seven charges, including one of obstructing, interfering or impeding an authorised officer in the course of their duty under the Animal and Welfare Act, 2013.

The prosecution was brought by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine following an investigation of O’Reilly’s kennels by Caroline Faherty, an animal and welfare Inspector with the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), assisted by ISPCA colleagues and a veterinary inspector with Cork County Council.


Ms Faherty told how she visited the kennels at Killamuckey on May 3rd, 2023, where she found dogs being kept in a pen attached to what looked like derelict sheds, surrounded by mounds of faeces and shredded paper that were riddled with rodent holes.

She entered one of the sheds, which was completely in darkness, and found four Irish terriers with their coats heavily matted with faeces. The smell of ammonia was overpowering from the faeces on the floor, which had fungi growing from it, suggesting it had been there a long time.

She found two other dogs in another shed in complete darkness, while four other dogs were in a third shed. All the animals were being kept in shelters with faeces everywhere, and nowhere clean for them to lie down, and either no drinking water or contaminated drinking water.

Four of the dogs were friendly, but six were nervous and suffering from “fear-aggression”, suggesting they had not been properly socialised, said Ms Faherty, adding she left a notice in the adjacent cottage asking the person responsible for their care to contact the ISPCA.

Ms Faherty said she returned with dog warden Gavin O’Dwyer on May 5th but they saw no improvement. She returned again on May 8th with Mr O’Dwyer, fellow dog warden Don Kelly, and Cork County Council veterinary inspector Edmond O’Sullivan.

They agreed that the dogs, nine of which were microchipped and registered to O’Reilly, needed to be removed from the kennels due to poor conditions. Mr O’Sullivan contacted O’Reilly to tell him that they had grave concerns about the animals’ welfare and were going to remove them.

“I was quite shocked that a veterinary surgeon, especially a veterinary inspector, would keep animals in such conditions,” said Ms Faherty, as she told prosecution barrister, Shane O’Callaghan BL that, when O’Reilly arrived on the scene, he was very argumentative.

“He was defensive and said that there was nothing wrong with the way that the dogs were being kept ... I tried to explain the situation to him, but he cut me off saying I was only an animal welfare inspector, and he was a veterinary inspector, and he knew more than me.”

Cross-examined by defence solicitor Joe Cuddigan, Ms Faherty agreed that, while all the dogs were physically fine apart from their matted hair and some bald patches, and none were at risk of death, she had serious concerns about their mental wellbeing and lack of stimulation.

The court also heard from a report by Cork County Council veterinary inspector Edmond O’Sullivan who said he was “somewhat incredulous that a veterinary surgeon would keep dogs in this manner”, before revealing O’Reilly became “agitated and adversarial” about the issue.

Pleading in mitigation, Mr Cuddigan said his client was not breeding dogs or running a puppy farm at the kennels but did have a number of show dogs, and he pointed out that he had removed and replaced the old sheds with new kennels within a month of the ISPCA inspection, at an outlay of €6,500.

He also pleaded for leniency on the basis his client had no previous convictions. He pointed out he was under considerable stress at the time as he was an only child and his father, to whom he was very close, had been hospitalised, and later died, and that was a huge burden on him.

Judge Roberts said that may well have been the case, but noted O’Reilly was able to continue working as a vet at this time of stress in his personal life. As a professional working with animals, he should have been able to discharge his responsibilities to the dogs in his care.

Lauding Mr Cuddigan for the arguments he had made in mitigation for his client, Judge Roberts said the fact O’Reilly was a vet himself was an aggravating factor as he imposed fines of €4,000, ordered him to pay €5,000 costs and disqualified him from keeping dogs for seven years.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times