Two years ago, animal control officials in Northern Ireland, seized a family pet from the home of Caroline Barnes, a former veterinary nurse whose 11-year-old daughter was registered as a disabled person.
Lennox is part Labrador, part American bulldog and part Staffordshire terrier. The officers told Nurse Barnes that the dog looked like an American pit bull terrier, and was therefore banned. She told them that Lennox was neutered, micro-chipped, insured and DNA registered and had never had a complaint made against him.
They took Lennox anyway. He’s been locked up ever since.
Yesterday, two years later, after a court case, numerous pleas, much publicity in the British press, and an appeal, the Belfast High Court ruled against Lennox being given a final, last-ditch appeal, and condemned him to death.
The outcry over Lennox has been worldwide. More than 128,000 people signed petitions to save him, dozens of dog experts spoke up on his behalf, two expert behaviorists evaluated him, and a home was all ready to adopt him in the Republic of Ireland, which has no such breed-discriminatory laws.
So there was no possible danger to anyone living in Northern Ireland. Lennox could have been driven across the border, just as has been done with other dogs.
Lennox was the beloved pet of Nurse Barnes’s daughter, Brooke Winters. Two years ago, she told the Daily Mirror, “He’s my best friend. When I’m sick, which is a lot of the time, he lies at my feet and comforts me. I play with his ears and he keeps an eye on me. My other dogs just go out an play, but Lennox stays with me and I love him.”
Soon after Lennox was taken away, Brooke started hurting herself, cutting the skin on her legs with her fingernails. “I don’t know why, but it makes me feel better for a wee while. I try not to hurt myself and I know mummy wants me to stop, but I do it when I’m on my own and worrying about Lennox.”
Lennox is still being held at a secret location to avoid demonstrations on his behalf. When the Daily Mirror was given brief access to see him, the paper reported that he was living in total isolation and didn’t even have any toys, daylight or exercise.
Requests for interviews with Belfast city officials have been receiving this boilerplate response:
The council believes that today’s ruling is the right decision and that it again vindicates the actions of our staff who, while simply carrying out the legal requirements of their job, have had to endure a relentless campaign of intimidation and abuse. END.
Barring a last-minute miracle, Lennox will be executed in a few days.