Puppy seized and rehomed while owner in psychiatric facility, court told

Man goes to High Court seeking to have dog, who he has ‘ close connection’ with, returned

A man has brought a High Court challenge against the Garda Commissioner aimed at securing the return of a puppy that was seized by gardaí. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A man has brought a High Court challenge against the Garda Commissioner aimed at securing the return of a puppy that was seized by gardaí. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A man has brought a High Court challenge against the Garda Commissioner aimed at securing the return of a puppy that was seized by gardaí.

He claims that while he was detained involuntarily for a month in a psychiatric facility, gardaí obtained a court order preventing him from keeping pets. This resulted in the dog being given to the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) and later being rehomed.

In his judicial review proceedings, the man claims the seizure order was unlawful and says he wants the dog returned to him.

He wants the High Court to quash District Court orders, made under Section 61 of the 2013 Animal Health and Welfare Act, as unlawful and made in breach of the principles of natural and constitutional justice.

John Berry BL, instructed by solicitor Conor Ruane, for the man, said his client was detained by gardaí under the Mental Health Act following a reported disturbance at his house some weeks ago. He was then admitted as an involuntary patient at a psychiatric facility and his dog was taken away by gardaí.

The man was released from the facility after a month and is progressing well, counsel said. He sought the puppy’s return from the Garda but was told the dog had been rehomed by the DSPCA.

Counsel said the man discovered, prior to his release, that the Garda had made an application to the District Court in respect of the puppy. Various orders and a declaration under the 2013 Act that he was incapable of taking care of an animal were obtained. The District Court ordered that any animal in the man’s possession be transferred to the DSPCA for appropriate care and rehousing.

Never informed

Counsel said the man was never informed by gardaí of their intention to seek such orders and it is not known where the dog is. He said the challenge has been brought on several grounds including his client was never told the application was going before the District Court, in breach of his rights to fair procedures. It is also argued the District Court acted outside of its powers.

The man is the puppy’s registered owner and there is no bar to him caring for the dog as he is no longer detained under the Mental Health Act, it is claimed.

In a sworn statement, the man said he had “a close connection” with the dog which he had obtained from a reputable breeder and had been vaccinated and microchipped.

The man also disputes Garda assertions to the District Court the dog was living in an unsuitable environment.

‘Untidy’

The man, who is separated from his wife and family and was living alone, said at the time of his detention that his home “might have been untidy” but was in no way hazardous for the dog.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Charles Meenan who returned the matter to November.