The Malta Independent 2 December 2023, Saturday
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French woman charged with mistreating dog after reportedly punishing him for running away

Helena Grech Tuesday, 31 October 2017, 14:45 Last update: about 7 years ago

A 26-year-old French woman today was charged with animal cruelty after a member of the public spotted her smacking her Belgian Shepherd with a leash for running away.

The woman, Nina Schmitt-Deschamps, was also inebriated at the time of the incident which took place on 30 October at around 6.30am.

The court heard how Schmitt-Deschamps, while under the influence of alcohol, left her residence in St Julian’s that morning to walk her dog. Upon returning to her home, she undid the dog’s leash and the animal ran away. When the dog ran back, after being called by his owner, she allegedly smacked him twice with the leash as a punishment.


Somebody nearby spotted this and immediately called the police. Schmitt-Deschamps was ultimately charged with causing unnecessary harm to her dog, breaching the peace and being not being able to look after herself due to the inebriated state. The accused, who was visibly rattled and concerned for her pet, pleaded not guilty after taking advice from legal aid Noel Cutajar.

The dog was taken to Animal Welfare and examined by a vet, which certified that the dog exhibited no injuries and appeared to be unharmed.

Prosecuting Inspector Nikolai Sant told the court how from preliminary investigations, it did not appear that violent or aggressive force was used against the dog, but rather, it was a form of training for running way. Sant told the court how the accused was playing with the dog while under police custody, after the incident. He also told presiding magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech how the accused explained that she spends a lot of money on medicines and that she cares for her dog well.

Police were shown medicines as well as a pet passport.

Frendo Dimech noted how since criminal proceedings were initiated, the act must have been viewed to be disproportionate.  She questioned if this was further highlighted through Animal Welfare’s decision to initiate criminal proceedings rather than administrative. Sant clarified that it was the police who decided to initiate court proceedings.

Until the case continues, bail was granted against a personal guarantee of €1,000. 

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