Drunken dog owner jailed for animal's bridge death

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The owner of a dog found hanging from a bridge where it was left chained up was jailed for 10 weeks today.

Drunken Michael Evans, 49, flew into a temper when he returned home from a binge to discover the animal had wrecked his kitchen.

He marched 18-month-old female crossbreed Sky out of the house in the middle of the night and left it tethered to a bridge over a mile away before he walked off.

Hours later, police in Bury were called to a report that the dog was hanging from the bridge over the River Irwell and was dead.

Evans pleaded guilty to tethering the dog in a dangerous and inappropriate fashion which led to her death.

He also admitted inflicting unnecessary violence to the animal.

The defendant initially claimed he left the dog chained up outside a local veterinary surgeon. He told the RSPCA that "some lads" must have taken Sky to the bridge, Bury magistrates heard.

David McCormick, prosecuting, said Evans, of Alfred Street, and his partner had been out drinking all day on March 24 prior to the incident.

He said: "On his partner's account they arrived home at 2am and found that Sky who had been tethered by a chain to a chair in the kitchen had managed to open the freezer and empty its contents.

"Evans accepted he was very drunk. He accepted he became irrational and lost his temper."

The dog was taken to the bridge near Gigg Lane and left without food, water and shelter.

A post-mortem examination showed surprisingly, said the prosecutor, that the dog did not suffer as a consequence of the hanging because death was instantaneous.

Bruising was found on its rump which would have caused considerable pain.

In mitigation, Evans told the bench: "I have admitted I have got drink problems. I have a temper. I have been to the doctor's for help.

"I am so sorry for what I have done."

Belinda Rosenthal, defending, said: "When the defendant came home he found the kitchen had been trashed. The dog had got into the fridge and freezer and he became angry and upset at what he had seen."

Evans had ongoing difficulties with the dog who had previously damaged furniture in the home while he was out.

It was decided to tie her up in the kitchen where she had plenty of space to roam, Miss Rosenthal said.

"In hindsight, he accepts he should have sought help from the authorities," she said.

"Bearing in mind he has an alcohol problem he had not clearly thought what he was going to do.

"He initially intended to take it to the vet's but he changed his mind and accepted he tied the dog to the bridge.

"He does not know what happened after that. Nobody knows the circumstances as to how the death happened."

Evans could not remember striking the dog but accepted he had hit it on previous occasions.

Miss Rosenthal said he "bitterly regrets" his actions and was now seeking assistance with his alcohol issues.

The death had caused a rift within his family and his 18-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son would have nothing to do with him, she added.

Sentencing, chair of the bench Janice Whitehead said: "We feel the act was intentional and the harm caused was suffering which ultimately caused the dog's death.

"We find these offences are so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified."

Evans was also banned from keeping animals for 10 years.