Coleraine woman first in Northern Ireland to be sentenced for tail docking

Edith Burton leaves Coleraine Magistrates' Court after being sentenced to 160 hours of community service for tail docking. She has also been disqualified from owning certain breeds of dogs. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
Edith Burton leaves Coleraine Magistrates' Court after being sentenced to 160 hours of community service for tail docking. She has also been disqualified from owning certain breeds of dogs. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
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A Coleraine woman has become the first person in Northern Ireland to be successfully prosecuted for tail docking under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Edith Burton, aged 36, formerly resident at Loughanhill Park, Coleraine, was sentenced today at Coleraine Magistrate’s Court ordered to conduct 160 hours community service, and to pay £216 costs. In addition Ms Burton was disqualified from the owning, keeping, or participating in the keeping of certain dog breeds.

Following an action by Coleraine Borough Council, Ms Burton pleaded guilty at Coleraine Magistrate’s Court on 6th March 2015 to causing unnecessary suffering to boxer puppies in her care in August 2013 and to docking the tails of a previous litter of boxer-type puppies in June that year.

Sentencing was adjourned until today for the purposes of obtaining a pre-sentence report. In sentencing the defendant, District Judge McNally stated that this was a serious matter and had she pleaded not guilty and been convicted she would have been facing a custodial sentence of a minimum of 2 months. The charges were brought against Ms Burton by Coleraine Borough Council under the Welfare of Animals Act (NI) 2011. The charges related to findings following an investigation by Animal Welfare Officers.

A Coleraine Borough Council spokesperson said:

“Animal Welfare Service teams in Councils across Northern Ireland take the welfare of domestic pets and equines very seriously and will, where necessary, rigorously enforce the law against animal cruelty.

“Coleraine Borough Council is pleased to have brought Northern Ireland’s first successful prosecution for tail docking under the new animal welfare legislation. This is an outdated and now illegal practice which causes unnecessary suffering upon the animal, in this case boxer-type pups only a few days old.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates that Councils will take action through the courts and we trust that it sends out the clear message that any form of animal cruelty will not be tolerated.

“If anyone has any concerns about any domestic animal’s welfare, including incidences of tail docking, they should contact their local Council’s animal welfare service.”