According to reports Lennox was murdered this past Wednesday, July 11, 2012, in Belfast, Ireland. His needless death has ignited a spark that has been festering for over two years. This "dangerous dog case" has sparked such controversy in the hearts of many setting the stage for those who would rally for his life and those who would support those who wanted him destroyed. In any event there is no room left for nuetrality. The end of the story is this is just the beginning. Each must now choose their side as a growing storm rumbles across the lands.
Breed Specific Legislation has been going strong for some time now throughout the world. It's nothing new. What is new is now there is a poster dog for everything wrong with BSL. No complaints, no bites, legally licensed as an American Bulldog/Lab. The world pleaded, celebrities and politicians joined in the protest, even the First Prime Minister of Ireland pled for his life. Cesar Millan, Jeff Coltenback, the Italian Ministers, and Victoria Stillwell, who was actually there in person that fateful day, all made earnest requests to rehome him to another country at their expense yet Belfast was committed to murdering Lennox supposedly for the crime of looking like a Pit Bull.
For the past two years I have followed this case where a healthy family pet was taken into custody because of his measurements and detained while his family battled for his life in an undeterred court system bent on his destruction. There are articles and posts all over the web for all to read the many details of this long court drama so I won't rehash the disturbing facts except to say, given the facts and expert witnesses, I naively thought Lennox would eventually be released.
What I want to focus on is the inhumane treatment this dog and his family suffered culminating in the most inhumane treatment a family should have to endure.
I write this as Kirby sleeps next to me without a care in the world because he knows he is safe from harm. Our current foster sleeps close to him. They are comfortable lying on a soft blanket in an air conditioned room. Their bellies are full from dinner. Toys lie scattered on the floor waiting should they want to play. I'm quite sure Lennox lived like this until two years ago when he was taken from his family and thrust into the dark legal system that would eventually take his life.
The truth will eventually come out, at which time I will either be vindicated for what I believe happened or I will have to admit I was wrong. The first thing that bothers me are the pictures leaked to the web showing his living quarters and deteriorating health. His family must have felt so wounded every time they saw these pictures knowing they couldn't comfort him or tend to his wounds.
The BCC had to be aware of these pictures and therefore had every opportunity to produce pictures showing Lennox in acceptable surroundings - a clean kennel, a soft bed, clean bowls of food and water. Before anyone says, "Have you seen how many dogs live in concrete kennels in shelters around the world?" I want to clarify that this dog had a family who, given the opportunity, would have provided these "luxuries". I sometimes wonder if they did send these items for their Len who never received them. Many, myself included, provide beds and toys to the local shelters where they ARE utilized for the dogs and cats in their care.
There are pictures of Lennox showing his coat deteriorating with missing patches of fur. There is testimony of an apparent neck injury and one of his back paws being covered in dried blood. Again, the BCC had every opportunity to show their regard for his well being in their care with pictures and reports by veterinarians tending to his health. I've read the family will be required to pay for his boarding. I'm sure they would have happily paid for veterinary care as well.
My final dismay is his "humane" death with no final goodbye from the ones he loved even though the family begged to be with him in his final moments. This is what truly breaks my heart. Before all of this he was a happy, loved family member for five years. Did he look in anticipation for a family member every time someone came to his kennel? Did he have a glimmer of hope that he was being taken to his family every time he was led from his kennel? Did he wonder, day after day, week after week, month after month, what he had done wrong for his family to throw him away? I've read that dogs seem to know they are about to be put down so I wonder if he gave up in those last moments knowing he would never see his family or home again. Being a dog, he had no way of knowing his loved ones were fighting for his life every second of every day he was locked away.
There are so many dogs discarded every day by owners who no longer want them. I know this because I foster some of these dogs. When they come to my home they are always scared and withdrawn. It takes time to gain their trust, time to make them understand they are safe, time for them to learn to be happy dogs again.
I am fortunate to have Kirby's help. He is the ultimate therapy dog as he shows them how they should behave, how to play again, how to just be a dog again. He has a calm demeanor which they quickly adopt. Lennox also lived in a home where foster dogs came and went with never an altercation. It's been said he was a therapy dog for the Barnes young disabled daughter. Was he also a therapy dog for the fosters that entered his home?
The BCC refused to concede he was a dog worth saving. They were so determined to prove him an aggressive dangerous dog which I think is why the option of rehoming him was ignored. What if they had been proven wrong? Then again I wonder that if in their attempts to force him to become aggressive, something may have gone terribly wrong. Did Lennox finally snap and attack only to be beaten down?
Throughout this process I held hope that this council would admit how wrong they were. Today I now believe Lennox died long before July 11, 2012. I believe his body was disposed of a long time ago which would explain why the request to rehome him was denied, why the request for his body to be returned to the family for proper burial was denied, and why the request for the collar he was wearing was denied.
I do hope there is an inquisition. The Barnes family, and the world who fought so valiantly for him, deserve answers. When did Lennox actually die? How did he die? Who was there with him when he died? Why did not one council member step up to say "What we are doing is not right!"
A beloved family pet with no history of aggression was murdered because the law said he could be destroyed simply because he resembled a dangerous dog breed. My soul screams this is wrong on so many levels. I have chosen which side of the fence I am on. Have you chosen which side you are on?