You may recall in July of 2011 a Dublin man, John Byrne, who has been living rough for over 20 years had his rabbit, Barney, thrown callously into the River Liffey by a passerby. Mr. Byrne risked his life by jumping into the freezing cold river to save Barney. Shortly afterwards the person responsible for abusing the rabbit was apprehended. ARAN stepped in to present Mr. Byrne with our 'Compassionate Citizen Award' for the bravery and kindness he shown his rabbit - the story prompted national media headlines with international outlets too. Since we presented the award to Mr. Byrne we have closely followed the case and pushed for the youth who has over 130 previous convictions to be jailed on grounds of cruelty to animals with our outdated Protection of Animals Act that dates back to 1911. The good news is that this week we were in court with Mr. Byrne and were pleased that Gary Kearney, who is currently serving a six year jail sentence, be given a four month sentence on top of what he is already doing, for throwing Barney into the river. Outside the court a group of cameras, photographers and journalists were waiting to hear of the outcome and requested comment from Mr. Byrne and ARAN. Click here for a video that sums up the events around the case along with some TV news reports. ARAN was delighted with the four month sentence handed down, the judge stated he was not going to be lenient and that it was a serious case. Most animal abuse cases rarely make it to court, let alone the offenders getting a fine, so four months is to be welcomed. Of course we also asked for a psychological evaluation of Kearney and a personal ban on owning animals for life. We did not get this however.
Shortly after the case, media outlets nationwide began picking up on the story and all over Facebook it was causing a hugely positive mood for the many people speaking out against cruelty to animals. RTE and TV3 television covered the case. RTE had the story running on 1, 6 and 9pm editions – this was massive exposure for our work to spotlight animal abuse. Local news websites, blogs ect all over the country, the UK, across Europe and as far a field as Australia and the USA were also picking up on the story. At one stage radio stations were covering the story one after another from 4FM, onto FM104 onto Dublin's 98FM, Newstalk and many more. Newspapers gave fantastic coverage including, The Irish Times, Irish Independent, The Irish Sun, Irish Mirror, Irish Star, Irish Daily Mail, Evening Echo, The Herald, Irish Examiner, and was cover story on The Metro. Most printed versions of the newspapers the following day gave great coverage talking about the jail sentence, quoting us about the cruelty, the laws and of course showing pictures of John Byrne holding our poster reading, Convict And Jail All Animal Abusers' this again was perfect in our efforts to expose animal abuse.
ARAN's work is genuinely making a vital, hard hitting difference to the plight of so many animals here in Ireland. We have been saying it for a long time that there is a huge shift starting to take place in Irish society. We see the media covering our campaigns and programs more and more and for good reason. As a matter of fact we're coming up to almost twelve full months of press coverage – we have not had our campaigns out of the media spotlight at all this year. It's been like this every week. We are also seeing a huge change in public perception on the streets, the many people who contact us wanting to get involved and know more about how they can help, the students and schools wanting us back time and time again – even when we are speaking on radio stations, people are texting and calling in to support the issues which is fantastic. But it is still a long way off of a cruelty free world which is why going into 2013 we hope that you'll stand by ARAN and make us even stronger. We want to expose even more animal abuse, we want even more press coverage, we want to see even more hearts and minds changed, we want to help even more homeless and abused animals. But If we do not have your active support we simply cannot do it.
Your support of ARAN's campaigns and programs is vital. Your support is what is making all this positive change. Your support is needed in 2013.