Pensioner loses Colne animal cruelty appeal over ‘choking’ dog

A PENSIONER found guilty of animal cruelty after he was said to have been “choking” his dog in the street has lost an appeal against conviction.

Joseph Kelly had attracted the attention of horrified passers-by in Colne town centre and several went to the aid of the “very distressed” 15-month-old Irish Terrier.

Burnley Crown Court heard how witnesses were concerned Kelly was harming his pet with its choke chain. The dog was said to be being held down on the ground while the chain was being pulled and Kelly did not appear to release his grip, despite a number of people intervening.

Mr Richard English, for the Crown, told the appeal hearing: “Its eyes were rolling back and its tongue was turning blue.” One witness told the court she had gone over after hearing the dog yelping. She continued: “It just looked like the dog was fighting for its life. It couldn’t move. It was just choking. I bent down to try to get my fingers under the choke chain to try to release the chain from the dog’s neck.”

She said a man at the scene managed to sit the appellant, who was on a bench, up and she picked the dog up at the same time. The woman continued: “The dog started to cough. It got a breath because the lead was a bit looser. We managed to get the lead out of the man’s hand.”

The court, which was shown CCTV coverage of the incident, was told the dog was carried to the police station. Kelly was arrested and denied being cruel to the dog, which, he said, he loved. He claimed he had been trying out a technique to calm his pet, which his trainer had shown him.

Kelly (66), of Hanover Street, Colne, had earlier been convicted by Pennine magistrates of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal on July 2nd, 2011. He had been given 18 weeks in jail and received a five-year ban from owning or keeping animals.

Recorder Paul Reid, who heard the appeal, with two justices, dismissed the appeal against conviction, but allowed Kelly’ s appeal against sentence.

The judge replaced the jail term with a two-year conditional discharge. He said on the basis of what the Bench had heard Kelly’s actions had been impulsive, and a one-off, which caused no permanent harm to the dog. He said: “It’s inappropriate for a custodial sentence to remain on the appellant’s record as against this offence.”

Recorder Reid and the magistrates also removed the animal ban. The judge told the appellant, who is currently serving 12 months behind bars for affray, they had read a letter from his vet.

The judge continued: “We take the view you are not a man who is likely to cause unnecessary suffering. We hope you have learned your lesson in your way of correcting or disciplining dogs.”