Brothers face trial after puppies found in van

Two English brothers are to face Circuit Court trial on animal cruelty charges connected to the discovery of dozens of puppies which were found lying in their own excrement in the back of a van in Dublin.

The 36 puppies, aged between three and six weeks, had been recovered and were taken into safety by gardaí and officers from the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

It followed searches on October 9 last, on the Old Malahide Road in the Coolock area in north Dublin.

The puppies included a number of Cocker and Springer Spaniels, Terrier, Beagle, and Labrador breeds along with several Jack Russells.

Two men, who been arrested at the scene, made their third appearance at Dublin District Court today to face animal cruelty charges.

Jobless brothers Reuben Burton (aged 32) and 21-year-old Rico Lee Burton, both from Stone Meadows, Carrington, Manchester, have been charged under the Protection of Animals Act.

It is alleged they cruelly ill treated animals by keeping the pups in the rear of a vehicle “in cramped conditions with no food or water, no light or fresh air and had the pups lying in their own faeces causing unnecessary suffering”.

Today the brothers, who have not yet indicated how they will plead, faced a preliminary hearing to determine the venue for their trial.

Judge Patricia McNamara said a District Court conviction for the offence can result in a maximum fine of approximately €1,900 and a sentence of up to six months in jail.

A conviction on indictment at the Circuit Court for the same offence carries a maximum two-year sentence and fines up to about €13,000.

She was furnished with a vet's report and photos and was told in an outline of the allegations that a van had been searched and found to contain 36 pups all under six weeks old. They were found in their own faeces and showed signs of parasitic disease; some of the pups' “hind claws had been amputated" and they had inflammation on their tail stumps.

Defence solicitor Tony Collier asked the judge to accept jurisdiction and allow the trial to be heard in the District Court.

He submitted that the neglect related to how the animals were handled as opposed to wilful acts against the puppies. He also said the condition of the animals was established by expert tests and may not have been apparent to his clients.

However, Judge McNamara refused jurisdiction saying she did not consider it to be a minor offence.

She remanded the pair on continuing bail to appear again in April when they are to be served with a book of evidence and returned for trial to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

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