• Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

Couple who rescued freezing dog reported to police for lockdown breach


Feb 22, 2021

The couple were suspected of travelling further than 5km from home, a breach of Irish lockdown rules (Picture: Ciara Nolan/Storyful)

A couple who rescued a freezing dog from a mountaintop in Ireland have been reported to police for breaching local Covid restrictions.

Video of Ciara Nolan and Jean-Francois Bonnet carrying eight-year-old golden retriever Neesha in icy conditions went viral earlier this month.

The dog had been reported missing two weeks earlier and was found shivering near a summit in the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin.

A nearby lodge where the couple were reportedly attending a mental health retreat for essential workers has been closed while Garda officers investigate.

It’s believed the couple were reported for travelling further than 5km from their home, which is currently forbidden under Irish lockdown restrictions.

The area where they found the dog is within legal distance from The Elbowroom Escape lodge in Donard, but is almost 50km from their home in Arklow.

The couple both work as doctors and the Elbowroom Escape lodge reportedly offered ‘mental health breaks’ to frontline workers.

According to the Irish Independent, the lodge said it had hosted nurses, doctors and carers ‘who were broken and just needed TLC and a break. All safely. All following safety protocols’.

In an Instagram post, which has since been deleted, it offered to ‘provide a letter to travel for protection against psychological mental health injuries’.

Current restrictions in the republic also state hotels and similar accommodation can only open for essential purposes, and forbids tourism.

Exceptions cover those who need to be accommodated away from home to access essential health assistance.

Lisa Wilkinson, director of the Elbowroom Escape, told the Irish Independent the lodge is now closed as ‘we simply ran out of funds to accommodate them as we were operating at a loss’.

Neesha managed to survive for two weeks in the wintry mountaintops (Picture: Ciara Nolan/Storyful)

‘We made ourselves available to several local hospitals several times during the pandemic to take essential workers who needed to isolate from families or other strategic reasons to assist in the running of the hospital.

‘The Elbowroom Escape is closed to guests until travel restrictions are lifted.’

Neesha the dog has been reunited with her owners, who told RTE News she had bolted after a deer on January 23 and failed to return.

Vets told the family she had lost a third of her body weight and developed dermatitis but said she would soon be back in good health.

A Garda spokesperson said: ‘Gardaí in Wicklow are carrying out enquiries in relation to a premises in the Donard area of Wicklow. The premises in question remains closed pending the outcome of the Gardaí enquiry.

The lab, pictured with Ciara and Jean-Francois, has been reunited with her owners (Picture: Ciara Nolan/Storyful)

‘The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended, are currently in force.

‘In supporting the COVID-19 public health guidelines and regulations, An Garda Síochána has and will continue to adopt, a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent. This has seen Gardaí engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.

‘Where Gardaí identify potential breaches of the public health regulations a file is prepared for the DPP in each case or a Fixed Payment Notice is issued where appropriate.’

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