Thursday, July 12, 2012

In Memory Of Lennox, Dog Put To Death For Resembling A Pit Bull

A determined 22-month long legal battle and a heartfelt social-media campaign for Lennox the dog came to a sad end on Wednesday. The 7-year-old dog was euthanized in Northern Ireland because his appearance resembled a pit bull terrier, a breed that is banned in the country.

A statement from the Belfast City Council said it had humanely destroyed “one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs” that its appointed expert had ever come across. The council said they carried out the court-ordered euthanasia for reasons of public safety and “a sustained campaign of abuse” against city officials from protestors.

Lennox’s story began two years ago when he was taken into custody because he looked like a pit bull dog. Pit bulls and pit bull mixes are outlawed in Britain.

Caroline Barnes, who owned Lennox, testified in court that her dog was a bull dog mix, not a pit bull terrier and that he had never bitten anyone. She asked the court to let her move Lennox outside of Northern Ireland in an area that did not have breed specific legislation. She wanted Lennox to come to a sanctuary in the United States.

News of Lennox’s case launched a massive online campaign by animal lovers in Britain and the U.S. to save the dog’s life. The commitment of tens of thousands of “Save Lennox” fans, LennoxArmy followers and Care2 petitioners continued during the entire 22-months he was imprisoned.

Barnes fought for her dog’s life in the court system until the very end. After nearly two years, Lennox’s fate was determined last month when an appeal was dismissed by Northern Ireland’s senior judges. The judges upheld two 2011 rulings to have Lennox euthanized.
Meanwhile Lennox endured the time at a municipal animal shelter in Belfast where employees claimed he was becoming more aggressive and unpredictable.

Councilman Pat McCarthy said, “The people looking after Lennox for the past two years said that one minute the dog was placid and friendly, and the next he would try to get through the fence to get at you.”

Perhaps Lennox was getting as frustrated with the legal process as the humans fighting for his life.

Victoria Stilwell, host of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me Or the Dog,” said “I hoped Belfast City Council would realize that there were alternatives that provided a sanctuary for Lennox in the USA where he would be safe, but they did not listen.”

On the final day Caroline Barnes and Lennox were refused the last shred of humanity that could have been given; Barnes was not allowed to be with her dog when he died.

A Facebook page for Lennox gave an “official statement” from the family: "We have been denied the opportunity to say goodbye. We have also been told that we cannot collect his body and bring Len home. We have been informed, however, that we will receive "some" ashes in the mail."

Rest In Peace, Lennox.

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