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Monday, 25 May 2015

US campaign over drowned dogs verdict

The drowned puppies

ANIMAL lovers as far away as America are mounting a campaign to challenge Cumbrian magistrates after they cleared a man who drowned puppies of a cruelty charge.

John Woolighan, 47, of Fleswick Avenue, Woodhouse, admitted drowning seven 10-day-old Staffordshire Bull terrier puppies but was cleared of causing unnecessary suffering by Whitehaven magistrates last week.

Experts could not prove that the dogs would have suffered more than they would have had they been put down.

Anita Solomon, an animal rights campaigner in Florida, has encouraged hundreds of like-minded people to write complaint letters to the magistrates who made the decision.

She has also set up a petition on a website.

The RSPCA, which brought the prosecution, is considering lodging an appeal.

The county branch of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue charity is now considering bringing a private prosecution.

Spokeswoman Julie Jenkins said: “Claims that the dogs did not suffer during drowning have incensed us.

We are considering a private prosecution. We have to do something about people walking away free from court.

“Because of this case we are also compiling all the ther cases which have gone to court. We have found hundreds. If this is a representation of the society we live in, I despair. It was cruel and unnecessary.”

Sally Case, head of prosecutions for the RSPCA, said: “We are astonished by this verdict and are considering our legal position.

“The RSPCA believes that the puppies were caused to suffer unnecessarily, drowning for up to three minutes, when they could have been put to sleep humanely by a vet.”

Mr Woolighan put a plastic box in his bath, filled it with water, dropped in the dogs and then placed another box on top so they could not escape.

An RSPCA inspector found the animals buried in a shallow grave in his garden.

Mr Woolighan said in an interview with RSPCA Inspector Martyn Fletcher: “They were yapping all day long.

“They were really getting on my nerves and their mother was rejecting them. I did not know whether I could look after seven puppies.

“I don’t know what really happened. I panicked. My head went funny and I just drowned them. I could not help myself.”

Magistrates were satisfied the puppies would have experienced some suffering and pain. But it was not proved beyond reasonable doubt that it was unreasonable pain.

They recorded a not guilty verdict.