The Malta Independent 25 October 2016, Tuesday

Spice the Husky’s owners taken back to court by irate neighbours

Neil Camilleri Tuesday, 19 January 2016, 13:19 Last update: about 9 months ago

The owners of the now famous ‘Spice’ the husky have been taken to court again after a resident of the Birkirkara apartment block filed a police report complaining that the dog was running around freely in the common area.

Therese Bonello had already been taken to court and acquitted last September after residents claimed the dog was a nuisance and howled at night, that its urine would drip from her balcony and that there were bad smells. Mrs Bonello’s husband Mark suffers from multiple sclerosis and insists his beloved dog not only offers a form of therapy but also acts as support in helping him shift his position. The couple had insisted that the allegations were complete lies and that the dog was a quiet pet. The court had ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the neighbour's claims. 

A number of witnesses have already testified in the new case filed against Mrs Bonello. Alexander Buhagiar, who is parte civile in the case, said he had filed a police report after the dog had been left unleashed in the common area of the block. He said the dog would pounce on people, though not in an aggressive way. His wife, he said, was terrified of dogs and the family felt uncomfortable living in their own home.  On one occasion the dog had jumped up on him as he went into the common area and the owner had only offered an apology.

Mr Buhagiar went on to say that the dog would bark and howl when left alone and at night and that urine would often drip from the Bonellos’ balcony and onto the cars parked below. He pointed out that the building contract did not allow tenants to keep animals. He said he had tried to trash the issue out peacefully with Mrs Bonello but she would either ignore him or take it against him.

At this point Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit pointed out that much of what was being said was not related to the specific charge before her – that the dog was unleashed in the common area. While she would take note of all that was being said, this case was about one specific charge, she said. The issue was whether the dog was under control or not.

Another witness, Police Constable Edwin Mulvaney, said he had visited the Bonello residence on several occasions throughout the years. Pressed by the defence he said he had never heard the dog barking, not even when the owners were away.

Mr and Mrs Bonello’s daughters and Spice sat quietly on the court building steps while the case was being heard.

Lawyer Edward Gatt appeared for Mrs Bonello. Dr Leonard Caruana appeared for Mr Buhagiar. Inspector Sandra Zammit is prosecuting.

The case continues on 29th April when the defence will summon its own witnesses. 

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