Woman spared jail after her Shih Tzu dog could barely move due to its matted coat

Maureen Bracken was convicted of neglecting her pet and causing unecessary suffering

A dog owner has been spared jail after her Shih Tzu was left barely able to see, move or breathe when its filthy coat grew into a “big ball of wool”.

Maureen Bracken, of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny, Dublin, was convicted under the Animal Health and Welfare Act for neglecting her pet and causing unnecessary suffering from September 2020 until February this year.

Insp Tony McGovern from the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) told Judge Anthony Halpin that on February 26th, a member of the public made a complaint. He visited Bracken's home and was brought to the dog's shed in her back garden.

"I was not sure if it was a dog or not," he told Dublin District Court. He furnished the court with pictures of the Shih Tzu before and after the woman surrendered it to the DSPCA.


“It is like a big ball of wool,” remarked Judge Halpin looking at the before picture.

DSPCA vet Eadaoin Murphy told the court the stench of urine and faeces from the dog "would sting your eyes".

The court heard that otherwise, the dog was in good condition and well fed.

The woman said she bought a home kit to groom the dog but it got damaged and she tried to cut her pet’s coat. Upset, Bracken pleaded she did her best to manage the Shih Tzu’s coat. Because of coronavirus, she could not go out to have it groomed.

Judge Halpin said it was “a very serious case of maltreatment of a lovely little dog” and put it between eight and nine on a scale of one to 10. He noted it was clearly in pain, and the DSPCA inspector at first could not tell if it was a dog.

He asked her if she was a pensioner, to which she replied no, but he noted there was still a mortgage on her home.

Noting her circumstances and that the Shih Tzu has been rehomed, he fined her €100 and ordered her to pay €300 toward prosecution costs.