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Londonderry: Man, 29, granted bail after dog partially buried alive

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Image source, Pet FBI

Image caption,

The dog, who was called Luna, was put down by a vet after being found in a park

By Michael Fitzpatrick


A 29-year-old man charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a dog has been granted bail.

The dog, who was called Luna, was put down by a vet after she was discovered partially buried in Ballyarnett Country Park by a member of the public.

Peter Toland, of Cornshell Fields in Londonderry, appeared at Dungannon Magistrates' Court on Saturday.

He is also charged with three counts of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of an animal.

A police officer told the court a member of the public located the animal buried up to its neck, in a remote part of the park, with a large piece of masonry on its head.

He said when police arrived at the scene on Wednesday the animal was in "a very poor state".

The court heard a vet, who examined the dog, found it was unresponsive, emaciated and had multiple punctures to the top of its nose and head.

The officer said the animal was in such poor condition the vet considered the only humane option was to put it down.

The court was told that Mr Toland was identified as the owner of the animal, after screenshots of a Facebook account linked to him were provided to police.

The officer said when police were unable to contact him a warrant was obtained to search his property.

He said three whippet type dogs were located in a dog pen at Mr Toland's home which had no bedding, no water and only small amounts of food.

A large amount of faecal matter was observed by officers along with a strong smell of urine.

The dogs were removed by police and have been placed in an appropriate facility.

The court heard that Mr Toland presented himself to police in Derry on 17 March where he was arrested.

Opposing bail, the officer said police were concerned that the accused may be a flight risk.

'Community tensions'

The officer told the court Mr Toland said he was at a caravan in Donegal from the time of the incident, but would not disclose the location.

He said police also had information to suggest that defendant "may be at risk of harm should he be released" and that this was "mainly due to the heightened community tensions around the case".

The officer said that the ground floor windows of Mr Toland's home had been broken and that there would be severe concerns for his safety should he be released.

He added police were currently investigating the incident of criminal damage.

A defence lawyer making the bail application said his client had handed himself into police and denied knowing anything about the injuries sustained to his animal.

He added his client had given police "a narrative as to where he was at the relevant time".

The lawyer said his client had told police that when he became aware people were suggesting it was his animal, through social media, he became "frightened for his own safety".

The district judge told the court he had to "take emotion out of the matters" when making his decision.

He said the accused had "no relevant criminal record" and that he would be granted bail subject to a number of conditions.

The case is adjourned until the 13 April.

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