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Owner of pound where dogs were left to die slow deaths avoids jail

The owner of Ashton Dog Pound in Dublin has avoided jail after pleading guilty to three counts of serious wrongdoing including keeping a controlled substance in an inappropriate manner at the pound. 

David Stone (65) of Hazelbrook, Loughlinstown, Ratoath, Co Meath was fined Є30,000 at a sitting of Dublin Central Criminal Court yesterday before Judge Martin Nolan. 

A Gript investigation by Gary Kavanagh previously revealed that the drug Dolethal was being administered to dogs in a highly inappropriate manner at the pound. 

Although it has been alleged that the practice was carried out on more numerous occasions at the pound, during the court case it was argued that two dogs, a bichon frise and Japanese Akita, were administered the drug via their food and left to die slow deaths in 2020.

Images obtained by Gript show the condition of the animals shortly before their demise. 


The Ashton pound has a long history of allegations of animal abuse. 

In 2018 a Dublin City Council dog warden, Darren Reid, made a protected disclosure to the Department of Housing, Heritage, and Local Government about goings on at the Ashton Dog Pound. 

In the disclosure, which is over twenty pages long, it was alleged that employees of the pound actively harassed a member of the public who had complained about their conduct and that they had tortured one dog, a collie, to death. 

The staff had allegedly first tried to poison the dog, who had nipped the heels of two children and was ordered to be put to sleep, but failed. They then tried to starve and dehydrate it – to “weaken” it. Eventually, it is alleged, they strangled the dog to death with its collar.

It was also alleged that a greyhound with a broken leg was denied treatment, and left to howl all night in agony.

John McGuirk wrote that a “friendly” dog which tried to greet a warden was picked up by the ear, and physically thrown into the back of a van. Employees urged other employees to run dogs over in their vans – inside the Ashton premises – if they broke free.

Another Gript article revealed that a dog who was thought to have had a kettle of boiling water poured over him was left untreated and instead sequestered from view until he could be euthanised. 

A former member of staff told us that dogs suffering from parvo virus were “left to suffer greatly” and “hidden away from public view, left in complete darkness” . It was alleged that the darkness was so total that  “you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face when the doors were closed.” 

At the time of our investigation a vet told Gript that Dolethal, when properly injected, offers a very quick and humane way to euthanise an animal but that the dog in question could have lived for up to 2-3 days as the Dolethal destroyed its body and shut down its central nervous system, effectively slowly suffocating the animal over a period of days.

 In the course of our investigation numerous vets described the way in which the drug was used at the Ashton pound as “horrific”, “mind-boggling”, and “absolutely unbelievable.” One vet broke into tears when discussing how a dog had died.

The court heard that the contracts entered into by Stone with Dublin County Council, which were worth €277,000 per annum, specifically stated that animals were to be euthanised ethically and drugs were to be administered correctly by a registered veterinary practitioner.

Stone pleaded guilty to “using a premises for supply of an animal remedy contrary to various European regulations, possession of an animal remedy designated “veterinary practitioner only” and causing or permitting the administration of an animal remedy contrary to the same regulations on July 24, 2020”

Multiple sources familiar with the pound told Gript that general staff had been told to administer Dolethal by the management of the pound. The staff worked off an estimate of the dosage required, based on the weight and temperament of the animal, given to them by former Ashton pound vet Sydney Nagle. 

Nagle told us that it was incredibly difficult to weigh an aggressive animal, and there was always a margin of error with administering these drugs, but that the dosage given to an animal by Ashton staff was the correct dosage “about 90% of the time.” 

A vet would then, a couple of hours later, enter the pound and administer Dolethal intravenously, euthanising the animal. However, Gript was told that there were numerous occasions on which a vet failed to attend at the pound to administer the drug intravenously, and as such animals were left to die as described above. 

Sources also told us this practice had been going on for years, and that this had been done to hundreds of dogs over the past few years. 

Nagle initially denied the claims that numerous dogs had been killed in this manner but later amended his position to admit that “there is a possibility” that there had been other instances in which a vet did not follow up on the initial administration of Dolethal, but that if that did happen it was likely “a while ago”, but that he wasn’t “100% sure.” 

During the court hearing Stone – who along with management at the pound refused to respond to numerous requests for comment during our previous investigation – said that he felt ‘let down’ by staff at the pound and reportedly handed in a letter expressing his remorse and embarrassment. 

Prosecution counsel Paul Carrol SC argued that the offences carried a maximum prison sentence of three years and a maximum fine of €500,000, however Judge Nolan said that the offence did not warrant a custodial sentence in this case. 

Nolan said that Stone had “been paid substantially to care for these animals and he had breached this contract” but that he would not hand down a custodial sentence due to Stone’s ‘previous good work record, lack of previous convictions, and co-operation with the Garda investigation’. 

In September last year David and Carol Stone were ordered to pay compensation in the amount of €18,000 to a whistleblower who exposed the cruelty at the pound. 

An adjudicator found that Connor Williamson had been penalised for “having made a protected disclosure with regard to animal welfare and veterinary pharmaceutical offences.” Williamson went to the police in July of 2020 after a number of dogs in the pound were killed by staff improperly using a controlled veterinary drug – the disclosure Williamson made led to Ashton Pound being raided by police, and the bringing of criminal charges against a number of individuals associated with the pound.

In 2020 a petition to close the pound gained over 20,000 signatures.

The petition also called for the immediate implementation of measures designed to increase transparency; safeguard against non-aggressive dogs being euthanised; improve the standard of animal welfare at the pound; and ensure people can easily check if their dogs are in Ashton before the 5 day waiting period is up and the dogs could be euthanised.

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