The news from across the pond is so heartbreaking this morning; I sat down and cried like a baby when I heard. Despite the 200,000-strong supporters that signed his petition for release, Lennox has been killed by his captors. Animal lovers around the world have been moved to do all they can to urge Belfast City Councilto release Lennox the dog to his family, or to one of the many people willing to re-home Lennox in the United States. For those unfamiliar with the two-year-long court battle and dramatic saga, Lennox was a seven year old mixed breed dog. His family says they adopted him as a pup and met both parents at the time. One was a purebred American Bulldog, and the other a black Labrador retriever–giving Lennox his unique looks. Unfortunately for him and those that loved him, those looks gave the city of Belfast reason to seize him, keep him in a kennel for two years, and ultimately kill him. He was not a problem dog, no one had ever complained about him, and he’d never been aggressive. In fact, a neighbor’s dog was the reason that the dog warden had been called out to the area. Poor Lennox just happened to get spotted.
This whole thing has really gotten to me. We have a beautiful yellow Labrador retriever, but he is a Dudley–meaning he has less pigment than other Labs, and his nose is pink. He is also very muscular–and every now and then, someone asks if Max is a pit bull. In fact, Lennox had a quite similar look. I cannot imagine what I would do if my Max was seized– he is truly our baby, and I would be inconsolable if anything ever happened to him.
Northern Ireland, along with the rest of the Untied Kingdom, enacted the Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 that bans ”Pit-bull type dogs” along with Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Braziliero breeds. The act gives them the authority to seize and ultimately destroy any of these dogs residing in the UK. The way that “pit-bull type” is written actually allows dogs who have no pit bull DNA to be destroyed, as is the case with Lennox.
Now, I have to preface all of this by saying that pit bulls are NOT my favorite dogs, probably because the ones that I have been exposed to were raised to be mean and possibly to fight. They had their ears and tails completely cut off, as fighting dogs do, to leave less for other dogs to grab. Though I had never seen one attack a person, I had heard enough about unprovoked attacks on children to urge my son to remove a puppy he had when my grandchildren were little that grew to resemble a pit bull. He took the pup to my mother in Tennessee, where he lived the rest of his life in a kennel– not ideal, but there are so many “pit-bull” type dogs up for adoption that finding a home for them is nearly impossible. Certainly, a lot of this is because of their reputation. Pit bulls were bred for hundreds of years to fight other dogs, so they do have very strong jaws, and can latch on and shake. These traits are useful in dog fighting, but not the types of things that make for the best family pet. Still, there are many friendly pit bull dogs, and if they are properly raised , I do not believe they are any more likely to attack than other dogs. In fact, the American Society for Temperament Testing examines every breed, and pit bulls actually test out to have better temperaments than beagles! You can see the entire list and their scores at this link: http://atts.org/breed-statistics/ What is more, not many people can determine accurately which dogs are pit bulls; they are very often mis-identified and many dogs are mislabeled as pit bulls that are not. Check out this set of photographs and see if you can pick out the ONE pit bull included among 26 different dogs. (I chose wrong eight times before getting it right.) http://www.understand-a-bull.com/Findthebull/findpitbull_v3.html. What can we all do to help make sure that innocent dogs like Lennox are not killed?
- First and foremost, make sure all dogs are spayed and neutered so that we do not have so many unwanted dogs.
- Be responsible pet owners– no matter what type of dog you have. Take care of your pets, visit the vet when needed, do not leave them outside all the time. Pet owners should have control of their animals at all times, no matter where the venue.
- Lobby against Breed Specific Legislation. There are too many issues surrounding it, and the breed is not the problem, only certain dogs are.
- Encourage enforcement of animal laws in your area– Those suspected of dog fighting should be punished severely. There are signs of dog fighting– ears cut very short, and lots of wounds on an animal.
What else can you think of? What can we do to help? How do we make sure this does not happen again? What would you do if it were your dog?
- Activists Lose Fight To Save Dog Who Resembles Pit Bull (huffingtonpost.com)
- Lennox the dog is executed Belfast City Council has confirmed (irishcentral.com)
- Pit bull-type dog Lennox put down (bbc.co.uk)