The anipal world has been watching Belfast, where the fate of a dog named Lennox rests on the judge who has already rendered an opinion in the case. Lennox has only a few more days to live unless the judge decides that he should not die.
Thousands of people around the world have not only followed the case as it unfolds in Belfast, but have organized a social media and web campaign to influence the outcome of the case. Supporters of Lennox called for a round-the-world vigil Sunday 9 October, the Belfast Telegraph reported. The website, petition and vigil all aim to get the judge in the case to change the decision that means Lennox will be euthanized sometime in the next week as a dangerous dog.
Experienced and knowledgeable dog trainers have also spoken out about the case. Notably, Victoria Stilwell of It’s Me or the Dog who is from the UK although living in New York now, asked to review the case and has spoken out strongly in favor of Lennox. Stilwell said that her review of the video evidence of the assessment of Lennox by police dog handlers indicated that Lennox engaged in remarkably restrained behavior given the stress he was under. Stilwell maintains that Lennox has been doomed by his close resemblance to a pit bull terrier, a dog that is banned in the U.K. under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Stilwell presented her views 30 September at BarkWorld Expo and published them 9 October in the North Country Gazette.
This breed-specific law makes it illegal to breed, sell or own Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brazileiro unless the dog is given a special exemption, the BBC reported.
Stilwell says that those who want to ban certain breeds of dog are looking at the “wrong end of the leash” for the culprits of aggressive dog behavior. She is not alone in insisting that Lennox is not a dangerous dog. Pete Wedderburn, otherwise known as Pete the Vet, spoke on behalf of Lennox on Irish TV. Wedderburn told Ireland: AM, “Judging a dog based on his looks is just silly.”
Another British trainer, Mic Martin, who stars in a TV show in the UK after a 30-year career training dogs for the British police and military and for for films such as The Dark Knight and Harry Potter 5, said the decision to euthanize Lennox is one of the “top 10 worse decisions of all time,” according to North Country Gazette.
“Let me get this right,” Martin said. “Lennox is being put to sleep because it jumped up at the warden? Are you all totally mad? We might have to PTS about half the dogs in the UK if jumping up is all it takes.”
Lennox ended up facing a death sentence at the age of six because he jumped up on officials who had come to his family’s home to check on his license. Before authorities seized him on 19 May, 2010, Lennox lived with the Barnes family in North Belfast. The family and supporters including Stilwell, say that he is an American bull cross, rather than a Pit Bull Terrier. He was more than a pet for the daughter of the family, for whom he was a therapy dog. After a long court battle, the judge denied Lennox and his family’s appeal of the judgment that he is dangerous on 30 September, the same day Stilwell spoke at BarkWorld Expo.
The online petition addressed to the leaders of the government of Northern Ireland to Save and Release Lennox currently has 111,992 signatures (10 pm EDT 9 October).