Northern Ireland

Police ordered to arrest man who allowed cancer-ridden dog to suffer for 18 months

The 14-year-old Collie was named Harley
The 14-year-old Collie was named Harley

POLICE have been ordered to arrest a man who allowed his cancer-ridden dog to suffer for 18 months before it was eventually seized and put down.

Francis Alexander Orr (60) was due to appear at Antrim County Court to appeal his six-month jail sentence, but when he failed to turn up, Judge Roseanne McCormick KC issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

Sentencing Orr last December, District Judge Nigel Broderick described the case as "one of the worst that I have encountered for a dog owner not treating their animal properly".

He had convicted Orr, from Carn Drivem Newtownabbey, of causing unnecessary suffering to a dog on March 8 2021.

Prosecuting counsel had outlined how Orr was told the family pet, a 14-year-old collie named Harley, needed surgery as long ago as September 2019 to remove an abscess at his anal gland. Orr declined the operation.

In June 2020, with Harley "barely eating or drinking", the mass had grown and vets recommended "euthanasia was in the best interests of the animal" as Harley was in pain.

"Mr Orr said he wanted to take the dog home to say goodbye to the children and the vet agreed, giving him a couple of days of strong pain medication," said the lawyer, adding that Orr failed to return.

There was no further interaction with vets or animal professionals until March 2021 when a member of the public, seeing Harley was in pain and had an open and oozing wound where the abscess had ruptured, called the dog warden.

Orr still refused to have Harley put to sleep, but the collie was seized on foot of a warrant and when examined by a welfare officer, was put to sleep.

"The abscess had burst causing an infection," said the lawyer, explaining that a further examination revealed cancer had spread throughout Harley's body and his "chronic condition had caused long-term suffering".

The PPS counsel submitted "the length of time that the dog was suffering is one of the most aggravating factors".

Representing himself, Orr claimed "you took my dog and you killed it too early".

DJ Broderick said it appeared "this poor animal was in pain and suffering for an extended period of time" and told Orr he was "struggling to understand" why he didn’t follow the advice from the vets.

In addition to the six month jail sentence, Orr was banned from owning or having any other animal.

He was due to appeal both his conviction and sentence today. Judge McCormick issued a warrant for his arrest.