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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 16°C
# Animal Cruelty
'Harrowing conditions': Man jailed for three years and banned from owning dogs or horses for life
Dead animals were scattered around the farmer’s property, some of which were used to feed the dogs.

Warning: Readers may find some of the images in this article distressing.

ISPCA remove 340 dogs and 11 horses from puppy farmer in Carlow ISPCA One of the injured dogs. ISPCA

A CARLOW COUPLE have been convicted of 60 offences under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, including causing or permitting animal cruelty.

Jim Kavanagh and Jenny Kavanagh, of Raheenleigh, Myshall, Co Carlow, had pleaded guilty in October 2018 to 30 charges each, having initially faced a total of 252 charges.

The remaining charges faced by Jim Kavanagh were taken into consideration. He was sentenced to three years in jail and banned from keeping dogs or horses for life.

Images and videos of the animals and the poor conditions they were kept in were shown in court. Dead animals were scattered around the property, some of which were used to feed the dogs. 

ISPCA rescue 340 dogs and 11 horses from Puppy Farm in Myshall, One of the injured dogs.

“Words fail me to describe what those pictures depict. It is extraordinary to find someone of farming stock guilty of such an appalling crime best illustrated by the video footage we sat through this morning and photographs presented to the court,” Judge James McCourt said. 

McCourt also ordered James Kavanagh to pay costs of €35,000 to the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA). Jenny Kavanagh was sentenced to a 12-month custodial sentence, fully suspended, and banned from keeping any dogs for 15 years.

The case was initiated after ISPCA animal welfare inspectors and members of An Garda Síochána carried out a joint search of the premises on 14 April 2015.

Starving horses rescued by ISPCA at Myshall Puppy Farm

Carlow County Council and the Department of Agriculture were called in and the local authority served the breeder with the first-ever closure notice under the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010.

Largest-ever rescue 

The ISPCA rescued 340 dogs and 11 horses from the premises over the subsequent nine days with the assistance of its affiliated member organisations and other rescue organisations. The scale of the rescue is the largest the ISPCA had ever carried out.

The dogs removed included Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Bichons, Terriers, Retrievers, Chihuahuas, Pugs, Labradors, Beagles, Pomeranians, Rottweilers, Salukis, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Lurchers and many others.

Some of the puppies were only a few days old and over 20 female dogs were nursing or heavily pregnant.

ISPCA removes 340 dogs and 11 horses from puppy farm in Carlow One of the injured dogs.

The ISPCA said the dogs were suffering from untreated injuries, chronic skin, eye and teeth problems, and many had infected paws from living in urine sodden straw. Many of dogs had heavily matted fur which needed to be completely clipped.

Most of the animals were transported to the ISPCA National Animal Centre in Longford, some were brought to the ISPCA Equine Rescue Centre in Cork, and others were transferred to welfare groups across the country who offered their assistance.


Chief Inspector Conor Dowling said the ISPCA “discovered a number of dead animals scattered around the property, some of which were used to feed the dogs”, adding: “It was harrowing.”

The living conditions these animals had to endure can only be described as squalid. Many of the animals did not have access to water or suitable food. The horror and sheer size of the rescue was extremely challenging for our inspectors, animal carers and volunteers.

Dowling thanked gardaí, Dogs Trust and the other organisations involved in the rescue.

ISPCA remove 340 dogs and 11 horses from puppy farm in Carlow An animal carcass on the farm.

He also said the ISPCA is “also indebted to the public who offered their support” after the orgasnoptn appealed for donations to help look after the animals.

The direct costs, including veterinary treatment, exceeded €60,000. Most of the animals required some form of veterinary treatment, and then had to be vaccinated, microchipped, administered with treatments for parasites such as fleas and worms, and neutered/spayed before being responsibly rehomed.

More information on the ISPCA’s work can be read here

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