An artificial intelligence (AI) expert has been cleared of breaking animal welfare laws after a judge accepted he had climate control switched on when he left his poodle in his car during a heatwave.
Ross Hunt, with an address at Rock Road, Blackrock, Dublin, pleaded not guilty at Dublin District Court to charges under the Animal, Health and Welfare Act.
A concerned passer-by noticed the poodle, Loki, in the Tesla S model car parked at Herbert Road, in Dublin 4 on 27 June 2018.
Mr Hunt was meeting his solicitor at Rolly's Bistro in Ballsbridge at the time.
The court heard that his small toy poodle dog was seen inside the Tesla for about an hour. The car windows were closed.
Mr Hunt, a qualified safari ranger, told the court he loved animals and he runs an AI business which helped monitor cows and their welfare in farms in north America.
He said he brought Loki everywhere with him and the climate control settings in his Tesla were always set at 20 degrees. They settings stayed turned on even after the vehicle was locked, he said.
He also included Loki in work activities and online promotions of his business, he said.
He told the court he tried to explain about his car's air conditioning system to a Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) inspector and a garda, but they did not get into his car to check if it was cooler inside than outside.
He said he showed his phone with an app displaying the car's inside temperature.
He had also thought they were going to break one of the windows as he came running to them.
In cross-examination, with prosecution counsel Gareth Robinson, he said he regretted the way he spoke to the witnesses but also told the court the dog was not left long, did not need water and was not distressed or panting.
The court heard that he then left with Loki.
A expert witness from Tesla confirmed the car was fitted with a climate cotrol system that could stay activated when the car was locked from the outside.
In closing arguments, defence barrister Oisin Clarke submitted that because of the car's air conditioning system it did not matter how hot it was outside, the inside temperature remained the same.
Dismissing the charges, Judge John Brennan said he accepted Mr Hunt's evidence and said it was quite clear he was very loving, responsible and caring dog owner.
He described it as an example of "a dog is a man's best friend".