Dog owner to be sentenced after admitting to neglecting lurcher described by judge as ‘skeleton on legs’

Robert Nugent pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and failing to provide enough food to the dog

A dog owner is awaiting sentence after admitting to neglecting his “emaciated” lurcher dog. The animal was described by a judge as “a skeleton on legs” on Wednesday.

Robert Nugent, Glenshane Lawn, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to breaching the Animal Health and Welfare Act by causing unnecessary suffering and failing to provide sufficient food and water to the lurcher.

At Dublin District Court, he also admitted neglecting a Rottweiler dog.

However, he is objecting to an application by the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) to obtain an order barring him from owning animals.


The case was adjourned until June 26th.

DSPCA inspector Bartley Finnerty told Judge Anthony Halpin that he went to Nugent’s home on November 8th, 2022 where he found a lurcher and Rottweiler to the rear of the house.

“The lurcher-type dog was in very poor condition,” he said. The Rottweiler was okay; it was a good weight, but the issue was the state of the overgrown garden.

“There was a lot of rubbish in the garden, it was very unkempt, there was no shelter. We were very, very concerned for the lurcher-type dog as you could see its ribs, spine, and you could see all its bones protruding out through it.”

Nugent told the inspector he had owned the lurcher for six years.

His explanation for the state of the animal was that it had gone missing for three or four weeks, but he didn’t report it to the warden or rescue services. He claimed he had friends out looking for the lurcher, which returned a day before the DSPCA inspection.

The court heard he told Mr Finnerty he did not bring it to a vet because he did not think it would make it through the night. Nugent claimed the dog seemed better the following day, and it was eating and walking.

Nugent said he had gone out to get the dog food and returned to discover the DSPCA had removed it.

He explained that the garden was overgrown and untidy because, due to his arthritis, he could not do maintain it.

The court heard that the grass was four feet high and rubbish was strewn everywhere.

Before-and-after pictures of the lurcher were handed over to the judge, who commented, “It looks like a skeleton on legs. I couldn’t describe it any other way.”

Mr Finnerty also said it was one of the worst cases he had seen during his experience, adding, “I was actually surprised the dog was still standing.”

He also voiced “grave concerns” about Nugent owning an animal because he had not sought treatment for the lurcher and was unable to care for dogs due to his arthritis.

A vet’s report stated the dog was emaciated, but it gained weight after being put on a feeding programme and is now in a good condition.

However, the court heard it had suffered anxiety and severe weight loss as a result of food deprivation.

The court heard the vet concluded that the situation went on for much longer than 24 hours.

Nugent surrendered the dogs to the DSPCA, which has incurred considerable costs in treating and looking after them.