The “Pit Bull Type” dog (he was actually an American Bulldog-Labrador mix) was confiscated from Caroline Barnes and her family in May 2010. Pit Bulls are banned in Northern Ireland under the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act.
His family was not allowed to say goodbye or see his body, leading to growing speculation of a cover-up by the BCC and concerns that Lennox was either badly abused or had already been killed.
Barnes had fought for two years to save her dog’s life. Last month, Northern Ireland’s highest court rejected her final appeal.
More than 211,000 people signed a petition asking the BCC to spare Lennox. Celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell and many others offered to rehome him in a location without breed bans. Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson tweeted, “Spoke to Lord Mayor about Lennox. Suggested BCC should seriously look at re-homing option. Why exercise the Order if there’s an alternative?”
The offers were ignored by the BCC.
“The council’s expert described the dog as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across,” the BCC said in a statement today. “Over the past two years, council officials have been subjected to a sustained campaign of abuse, including threats of violence and death threats.”
Pat McCarthy, the head of the BCC’s Environmental Health Committee, told the Associated Press that Lennox supporters were in denial about the dog.
“The people looking after Lennox for the past two years said that one minute the dog was placid and friendly, and the next he would try to get through the fence to get at you,” he said. “Now, do we release that dog into society?”
One of those people looking after Lennox was Senior Dog Warden Alexandra Lightfoot, who testified that Lennox was aggressive and had tried to bite her. However, she can be seen smiling as Lennox kisses her in photos posted on the Save Lennox website, which was started by Barnes.
Just hours after Lennox was killed, Stilwell and McCarthy were guests on BBC Radio Ulster. Stilwell said she was “absolutely devastated” and the BCC “behaved in an absolutely despicable way – it’s disgraceful … millions of people around the world are appalled by what the Belfast City Council has done to this dog and to this family.”
McCarthy put the blame on higher courts, arguing that because Lennox had been called dangerous and unpredictable, the county court and court of appeal had both agreed that it was best for the dog to be killed.
Stilwell shot back, “You and the Belfast City Council have fought so hard for that ruling … and then you claim that your hands are tied by it.”
Both agreed that the Dangerous Dogs Act needs to be looked at and reviewed.
“We are tasked with implementing the legislation,” McCarthy said. “We didn’t make it … We’re in a no-win situation here.”