Northern Ireland

Coleraine woman Edith Burton sentenced for tail docking

A woman has pleaded guilty to removing the tails from dogs in what is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Edith Burton, formerly of Loughanhill Park in Coleraine, County Londonderry, admitted causing unnecessary suffering to boxer puppies.

She also pleaded guilty to docking the tails of another litter of puppies.

The thirty-six-year-old was sentenced to 160 hours of community service and must pay costs of £216.

Coleraine Borough Council brought the charges after an investigation by its animal welfare officers.

The offences took place between June and August 2013, Coleraine Magistrates' Court was told.

The district judge said if Burton had pleaded not guilty and been convicted she would have been facing a prison sentence of at least two months.

Burton was also disqualified from owning or keeping certain dog breeds, including Jack Russell terrier-type, springer-type and boxer-type dogs.

A spokesperson for the council said the sentence sent out a clear message that no form of animal cruelty would be tolerated.

"[Tail docking] is an outdated and now illegal practice which causes unnecessary suffering, in this case to boxer-type pups only a few days old," the spokesperson said.

"Animal welfare service teams take the welfare of domestic pets very seriously and will, where necessary, rigorously enforce the law against animal cruelty."