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Lennox the Dog Put to Death

By Victoria Heuer    July 11, 2012 / (32) comments

Two Year Battle for Dog’s Life Ends in Tears


For the first five years of his life, Lennox, a stocky black dog living in Northern Ireland, had a happy and well-adjusted life. Caroline Barnes, his owner, was an old hand at raising dogs. She often had several foster dogs in the home, as she served as a foster "parent" for some of the animal shelters that serve Northern Ireland.

So when Barnes adopted Lennox as a puppy, she did everything a conscientious pet owner would do. She had him neutered, vaccinated, licensed, insured, and microchipped, as well as having his DNA registered and Pet Safe registered. As he grew, Lennox was well contained in the family’s fenced yard and he was always attached to a lead when he was walked through the neighborhood. According to Barnes, Lennox never roamed on his own and he never frightened anyone or gave anyone cause to make a complaint.

When three Belfast City Council Dog Wardens came to visit one day in May of 2010, Barnes served them tea and chatted with them as they greeted and socialized with the family’s dogs. They then took out a simple dressmakers’ measuring tape and measured Lennox’s leg length and muzzle width. According to some standards, if the femur (thighbone) is shorter than the tibia (shinbone), the dog is classified as a pit bull type. Based on the measurements they took that day, the wardens decided that Lennox was a pit bull type and was therefore a menace to the community. That Lennox did not have a prior history of aggression toward humans or other animals was never considered; he was taken away that very day to be put to death by the state.

For the next two years, the Barnes fought an unremitting battle with the courts to save the life of their dog. Sympathizers from across the globe joined their cause, with petitions that garnered more than 200,000 signatures, letters to the council and courts, threats to boycott the City of Belfast, all to no avail. Celebrities joined the cause, with dog trainer Victoria Stillwell offering her opinion based on the assessment videos that had been made by the Belfast City Dog Wardens Department and concluding that Lennox did not pose a danger to the public; again, to no avail.

As the situation continued to head toward a tragic conclusion, Stillwell offered to rehome Lennox in the U.S. at her own expense. Although Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson supported the rehoming plan, she was to never receive a reply.  Robinson was quoted by the Telegraph UK as saying, "As a dog lover, I am very unhappy with the outcome of this case."

Pit bulls as a rule are illegal in Ireland, and all classified "pit bull types" are destroyed, with few exceptions. Could Lennox, even without the prior history of aggression, have become an aggressive dog based on his breed — assuming that he was in fact a pit bull type? According to former police officer Jim Crosby, who has spent considerable time examining cases in which dogs have killed people, "[Dangerous dogs] have as many faces as human killers. I have seen dangerous dogs that looked like pit bulls, and like huskies, and like rottweilers, and Chihuahuas, and Labradors … they all have one thing in common: They have exhibited observed behavior that shows they present a clear danger, or have behaved in a way that caused serious injury or death." (Source: Guardian UK)

A spokesman for the Belfast Council, quoted by the Belfast Telegraph, said that Lennox had been described by the Council’s expert "as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across."

That statement does not mesh with photographs of one of the wardens petting and hugging Lennox while allowing him to lick her face. The same warden later took the stand and claimed that she was terrified of the dog.

Other photos of Lennox have showed him in a concrete holding cell, with sawdust for bedding and feces on the floor around him. He had lost a considerable amount of fur, and according to Stillwell, after viewing the videos of him, he had visible neck and foot injuries.

In the end, Caroline Barnes wrote a message on her website, SaveLennox.com, saying, "We do not wish to prolong his suffering any longer by engaging in a battle that we simply cannot win."

Lennox the dog was put to death on the morning of July 11, 2012. He was seven years old.


Comments  32

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  • Poor Lennox
    07/12/2012 04:14pm

    What is the use, you will not print what I just wrote, so I am just going to say one thing and this is for the Belfast Council and the dog warden,who was so afraid of Lennox. I hope your childrens, and your grand childrens pets are taken away and put to death. You people are no better then the ones that abuse poor animals who only look toward us for love and care. I pray you all rot in hell.

  • 07/12/2012 05:33pm

    Agreed, He who judges shall be judged...

  • 07/12/2012 09:32pm

    Stupid, stupid, STUPID PEOPLE!!! Since the State has proven that THEY ARE killers of the innocent, perhaps a law should be passed that ALL KILLERS of ANY innocent life forms
    be illegal n put to death... STUPID #$%^^$$## PEOPLE!!!

  • 08/24/2012 05:16pm

    What was done to Lennox and his family was a travesty of justice. But I would not wish the same thing to be done to anyone else's pets, even the pets of the families of those responsible for killing Lennox.

  • 08/25/2012 11:52pm

    There are no bad dogs, just bad owners. This owner was one of the good ones. I feel badly for the family and outraged at the actions of these government officials. It is really too bad that they cannot see that, like people, each dog should be judged on his or her own merits, not just because of their breed type. God bless the dogs.

  • 08/27/2012 03:39pm

    I totally agree with you Mary Ann. This is serious profiling,basing a decision like this on the way a dog looks is beyond unfair. She who PTS this dog should burn in hell!

  • 09/09/2012 10:30pm

    Lady, don't take it out on the poor pets! Instead, lets hope these bloody bastards have their loved ones taken away for their adherence to filthy socialist nonsense.

  • 09/10/2012 02:43pm

    You are right I should not have taken it out on the pets, I only wanted to stress as to how would they feel if it had happen to thier pets, in my anger I lashed out without thinking about what I was writing, as you see from my first comment, I nver thought they would have printed what I said. all in all what was done was wrong, and its the Humans we must blame.

  • 09/13/2012 07:55pm

    Without a doubt, you will be there with them.

  • 07/13/2012 12:49am

    Those people who decided that a "pit bull" type are profiling which is when applied to humans morally wrong yet how is it right when applied to another living, feeling, breathing animal. We are all animals, but the Belfast Council just proved that they are more animal than people. They alone had the power to save this much loved dog and didn't. What was it Ghandi said "The morality of a people is reflected in their treatment of animals". I will NEVER visit Belfast because I am boycotting them.

  • For the love of Pit...
    08/26/2012 06:21pm

    i recently put down my 19 year old pit pull...the kindest, most intelligent dog i have ever owned. these breed specific laws are a joke. i wish nothing but the worst for these g-men who decide what is "right and proper" (in their own small minds) without regard for real life.

  • 08/27/2012 06:01pm

    As my Irish father would have said. "That is the height of stupidity!". I suppose that same kind of idiocy contributed to the Troubles.

    I have a pit bull and he is a registered therapy dog. He visits institutions such as assisted living facilities and other facilities where people would appreciate the comfort a dog has to offer. My dog is as friendly and sweet as they come. He has been described as tender-hearted and I suppose that fits him very well.

    To condemn a dog just because of his breed shows a remarkable lack of intelligence concerning dogs. Those who demonstrate such an ignorance should not be in a position to take the life of a dog.

    To the Belfast City Dog Council; As I sit here, thousands of miles away, I know that your responsibilities are serious and burdensome. But I also am dismayed with your decision to destroy a family pet just because of its breed. Just as you would judge a person by his actions and not because of his race, I would ask you to do the same for dogs. In many ways they are not all that different from us.

    Ireland has too great a history to be so cruel.

  • 08/28/2012 06:13pm

    This is a despicable decision. I am shocked and saddened to discover this ignorance from a region I was once so impressed with. If that dog was unpredictable It came from its long time in confinement in those circumstances. If Ireland directed this much concern to their pedophile priests It would make sense.

  • Poor Lennox & his family.
    09/02/2012 09:24pm

    This beautiful dog was taken from a home where obviously he was well cared for & very much loved. For what???? To live the rest of his days in confusion & hurt. What had he done? Why did they let him go? This beautiful dog was ripped from a loving home for no reason than to satisfy some very unknowledgable people. My son has 3 dogs, thank God we don't live in Belfast because 2 of them might be considered pit mix, but these dogs sleep on my granddaughters bed, are polite, well behaved & very much LOVED members of their & our family. If someone would think of removing any of their dogs he would take them to his camp while looking for a friendlier place to live. I can't imagine the pain these people lived with for 2 years while they fought for Lennox, then to have to decide to stop his suffering. No one should have to make a decision to euthanize a beloved pet unnecessarily. So Belfast, I have now removed Ireland from my bucket list. Why waste my time & money to visit a place without a heart.

  • Lennox
    09/03/2012 08:59pm

    The best dog I have ever had was a pit bull. Friendly with dogs, cats, horses, neighbors, children, adults. Would not have any other breed.

  • lennox
    09/04/2012 08:42am

    pit bulls are the sweetest dogs in the world. if they attack anyone its the owners fault, not the poor dog, they are not born aggresive at all it's the stupid people that make them mean that should be put down!!! it's there fault not the puppies!!!

  • 09/05/2012 04:17pm

    Sorry to tell you this, but many of the pit bulls who have "turned" were not abused. Years ago, I rescued Pit bulls, but realized that they are bred to kill and nothing will change that. Last year, a woman who was a huge pit bull advocate in San Franciso was killed by her neutered Pit bull. She was 6 months pregnant. Her husband found her mauled to death in their bed. They had the pit bull since he was a young puppy and had never "abused" him.
    I have heard many first-hand accounts of pit bulls "snapping" from owners and rescuers. Indiscriminate breeding has created something similar to the "rage syndrome" in Springer Spaniels.
    That being said, I do not believe that Lennox should have been killed. He was neutered and had not shown aggression. That was very tragic. Not all pit bulls will "turn", but the problem is that you can't tell by looking at them or by their lack of aggression in the past. I know rescuers who have had pits for years, only to have the pit go into a killing "frenzy". My pit was very sweet until he turned. The breeding of pits needs to be stopped because they are dogs that should not be trusted alone with other dogs and living in isolation is unkind to a pack animal. Again, many people have told me of their pits being wonderful for years until they suddenly attacked and killed their other dog/dogs.

  • 09/09/2012 04:53pm

    The unneutered dog you are referring to was not a pit bull. Just FYI. May want to use an example that applies to the dog in question.

  • 09/23/2012 01:16pm

    that dog? was NOT A PIT BULL. you may want to get your facts right.

  • RIP Lennox
    09/04/2012 03:31pm

    I am so sorry for the tragic loss of Lennox. My sincere condolences to his family and all who loved him.

  • Extreme Views
    09/04/2012 04:47pm

    It is odd seeing the comments here; I am surprised that people would wish vengeance on the pets of relatives of the dog warden. I am equally surprised that some of you feel that there are no bad pets, only bad owners. That is as dumb as saying that there are no bad humans, only bad parents or "society" -- when in fact there are innately bad humans and animals. I would recall the San Francisco dogs that got away from their owner and killed a neighbor, and were eventually put down. In the end what matters is that a dog killed someone; whatever made it behave that way has to take second place to what is good for society. The idea of no-kill is impractical. What a compassionate society must do is strike a balance between competing ideas and factors. Animal owners must be held to account in terms of what they do to their animals, whether that is mistreating them or training them to be violent. But if a dog killed a child, saying it shouldn't be put down is downright stupid. The best approach is to admit that some animals must be put down for their own good and the good of society but with a goal of minimizing the need for that in the first place. That is not easy, but it could be a common goal. Part of that is holding pet owners accountable (as they do in Germany) and imposing harsh penalties and forbidding animal ownership once people have proven they cannot responsibly care for an animal. But that requires reasonableness on all sides. I do not accept that there are "no bad animals" any more than I can accept that there are "no bad people." Sorry, but there are some of both out there. All the same it does not appear that Lennox got a fair shake. I am not advocating stupidity; I am advocating for a reasonable approach that involves compromise.

  • 09/14/2012 03:01pm

    I have to disagree with your answer, domestic pets are not born killers, they are made that way, intentional, or not, some how,some time that pet was mistreated, or breed to do harm, you mention the S.F. dogs that killed that poor woman, and do you know what the outcome was in court on the case. The owerns, knew the dogs had been trained to do harm, they knew, all along, yet refused to admitt it, but both were found guilty. So guilty that the woman in this case was charged with second degee murder, and is serveing a life sentence.I am sorry, but I still feel it is mankind that turn pets into dogs that do harm.

  • Here's an Idea....
    09/06/2012 03:50pm

    Using the "good" folks in Northern Ireland's logic...that pitbulls have killed people and are aggressive...seems to me there have been MORE people killed by folks of Northern Ireland (and we all know that they are WAY more aggressive) shouldn't they all be "put down"? Now, this isn't advocating killing a whole group of people; it just shows how utterly RIDICULAS their "rational" is regarding this sweet breed of dog. by-the-way, I have found that any pitbull that becomes aggressive and dangerous, you can usually find that they were made that way by cruel humans....much like the "good" folks of Northern Ireland.

  • Ireland is Disgusting!
    09/09/2012 04:05pm

    After reading this article I will never go to Ireland. Disgusting barbarity on the isle, clearly.

  • Lennox
    09/11/2012 05:10pm

    As a professional pet-sitter, I have to enter the homes of many types of dogs without the owners being home. Often I have met the pet only once. I have NEVER been frightened by "dangerous breeds", only dangerous animals - usually ones that are not well trained, which jobs I refuse. One would think the dog itself should have been better evaluated or perhaps more stringent confinement arrangements enforced, but death to an innocent animal - unforgivable! Why not have allowed the rehoming? And to have let the poor dag languish in filth - unforgivable!

    This type of human behavior makes it very hard not to want to wish evil on others. Perhaps if they have consciences, those will at least nag them. Very sad commentary on the "advancement of the human species."

  • reply to Mr. Stevens
    09/14/2012 03:05pm

    I am not sure how to take your comment , care to explain ????

  • RIP Boy
    09/15/2012 05:10pm

    RIP you special boy.

    This has to stop. Busy bodies need to get a life and stop messing with others lives.

    Shame on you meddlers.

    Just hope you don't get classified as unsafe they might just come after you to put you down...

  • Boycott Ireland!
    09/18/2012 02:36pm

    Well I say to all animal lovers to just boycott travel and doing business with Ireland all together. If this is how they want to act by ignoring the pleas of animal lovers and such then maybe we should react by hitting them in their wallets by not spending any of our money in their country. Maybe then they will think twice before ignoring the people. We, the people, need to let the governments know that we are actually more powerful than they are because we can put them in office and we can also spend our monies where we like therefore by not spending in their country then it hurts their bottom lines with taxes in tourism.

  • Dangerous Animals
    09/20/2012 05:03pm

    Why don't you send one of your City Council Dog Nazi's over here to Oklahoma, USA and try to take one of MY pit bulls?

    Just make sure to send one with really good health insurance. The ballbeg'll need it. I'll stomp a mudhole in his arse and keep stomping till it's dry!!!!

  • Bad Government!!!
    09/21/2012 07:38pm

    This is absolutely crazy!! Breed specific legislation ignores the fact that OWNERS are ultimately responsible for the behavior of their dogs. Any breed can be vicious if taught, even a Yorkshire Terrier. This is government at its worst.

  • A tragedy
    09/23/2012 04:33pm

    I am so sorry for your loss and hope that your sadness goes away soon--remember your good memories. I always like to think all my dogs that have passed are in doggie heaven and playing and running around with all the other dogs. That comforts me. I know it doesn't make his taking any easier.

    I often wonder how it would be if we treated humans the way we treat our animals sometimes, if more thought would be put into some of these stupid and ridiculous laws. Let us suppose for an instance, that some case worker comes around and begins measuring the girth of humans; and what if for the sake of argument--your girth falls into a category that says you are a danger to society and need to be put to death. Or your legs might be to long or short, or your head to square or round--sounds pretty nuts to me doesn't it to you. Or what if your hair color is off or to gray or white or red or brown or black. What is happening in our societies, that because we don't fit a specific mold, well, march us off to the death camp. Doesn't this ring a bell of Hitler's time.

    OK, I'll get off my soapbox--pitbulls are not at the top of the list of "BAD dogs--there are a whole lot of others. Our dogs are infamous for dog bites and yet you never or rarely hear of the breed I have biting someone. Yet, I had trouble getting insurance just because of the type of dog they are--yet they are gentle giants.

    Once again, I am so sorry for your loss--I hope this does not discourage you from having more pets, and that you continue to open up your hearts to the unconditional love they do give us and all they want in return is food and water and a little love in return.

  • this is a crying shame
    09/23/2012 07:09pm

    I wish aweful & terrbile things for the people who obviously lied about their encounter with Lennox. This is such a shame! I can cross Ireland off my list of places to visit now!!!