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Mother feared dogs would attack baby 23.02.12

Farmer issued with hefty fines under Dogs Act

AN ELDERLY Inishowen farmer has been given a hefty fine and warned to keep his dogs under control after they made for two members of the same family out walking with a baby.
George Cavanagh (75) of Carrowhugh, Greencastle, pleaded not guilty to two charges under the Control of Dogs Act when he appeared at Carndonagh District Court on Tuesday.
One of the victims, Marian O'Donnell, told the court she was walking on the evening of April 9, 2010 with her 10 month old grandson when three or four dogs came out of the defendant's property and made for them.
"They came at me barking and growling. I was terrified they would attack the baby. I shouted and roared and screamed but they wouldn't back off. I brandished a stick at them but it made no difference," said Mrs O'Donnell.
Under cross examination by defence solicitor, Ciaran MacLochlainn, Mrs O'Donnell acknowledged that her husband, Con, shared commonage land with the defendant. However, she was adamant she was unaware of any dispute between her husband and the accused over the land.
Her daughter, Margaret, also took the witness stand and testified that she was out walking around midday on August 31, 2010 with her 14 month old son. She said she was passing Mr Cavanagh's house when two or three small terriers and a couple of collies followed her, barking.
"I ran at them, I shouted and jumped at them. I was afraid they were going to attack my son," she told Judge Paul Kelly.
Garda Stephen Canning investigated both incidents. He said that when he put Marian O'Donnell's allegations to him, the defendant undertook to keep his dogs under control.
However, when he put the second allegation to him, the defendant hurled "a barrage of abuse" at him.
Garda Canning told the court that Mr Cavanagh accused him of being the only one of five Moville-based Gardaí to give him "grief about his dogs". Mr Cavanagh declined to give a written statement and was cautioned by Garda Canning.
Mr MacLochlainn told the court that his client was a "substantial farmer" who owned land on both sides of the road at Carrowhugh. He was a bachelor with a serious heart condition who lived alone. He had had items stolen from his property in the past and kept dogs "for his own protection".
Mr MacLochlainn said the dogs were only "doing their duty" when people came on his client's property. However, Supt Kevin English, prosecuting, said the women were walking on the public highway and were not on the defendant's property when the dogs went for them.
Judge Kelly said he was satisfied that the women were not on the defendant's property when the incidents took place. The court was told that Mr Cavanagh had previous convictions in 2008 for having uncontrolled dogs and being the owner of a dog that was worrying livestock. Judge Kelly convicted Mr Cavanagh and issued fines totalling €800 in respect of the two charges. He gave the defendant four months to pay. He also ordered Mr Cavanagh to keep his dogs under proper control.
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