Update on Lennox

Like the tens of thousands of people around the world who have followed the story of Lennox, I was devastated by the recent ruling condemning him to death in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Lennox was a well-behaved, registered, perfectly assimilated family pet who was taken from his very responsible and devoted family over a year ago simply because he fit certain measurements which had been determined to constitute something called a “pit bull type.”

As in several other countries, states and territories, Northern Ireland has unfortunately continued to adhere to outdated and misguided thinking that assumes that a dog’s behavior can be determined based on the way it looks.  Such breed-specific legislation (BSL) has been repeatedly shown to be ineffective in reducing the number of dog bites (its advocates’ usual rationale), primarily because it focuses on the wrong end of the leash.  I’ve railed against BSL extensively in the past in previous articles and posts – you can read them here.

The Belfast City Council and the judge in charge of Lennox’s case watched and heard expert testimony by some very accomplished behaviorists such as the wonderful Sarah Fisher, but they ultimately appear to have chosen to put more stock in what they heard from a dog handler named Peter Tallack and some of the dog wardens that took him from the family's home.  All three wardens were found to have lied under oath, but even this did not stop the judge from reaching his decision.  That decision was a travesty and a tragedy.  I watched video footage  of two extensive evaluations of Lennox by Sarah Fisher and another accomplished expert, David Ryan.  Suffice to say, anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of dog behavior would agree that though poor Lennox was a fearful dog, he showed amazing impulse control and trust in the strangers that were handling him.  The overwhelming majority of video evidence I saw supports the family’s claim that despite the incredibly challenging conditions he’s been forced to live in for the past year, Lennox remains an innocent dog.  Part of Tallack's testimony apparently highlighted the fact that a dog should not respond defensively even when being mishandled, including being hit, pushed around, poked in the eye and shouted at.  If a dog reacts aggressively while being treated in this manner it is a dangerous dog.   He obviously sets very high standards for these animals but I'm sure if he was pushed around and feared for his life, he would react accordingly in order to defend himself.  Obviously in his mind, dogs should not do that.

Like the family and Lennox’s many supporters, I have been heartened and overwhelmed by the huge response since the verdict came down last Friday.  The only good news is that there is a 14-day window before Lennox’s scheduled euthanasia, but this is primarily a procedural technicality and does not offer much hope of the judge reversing his unfortunate decision.

What this may do, however, is provide a glimmer of hope that we may appeal to some heretofore unseen shred of humanity in the legal decision-makers of this case to spare Lennox’s life by allowing him to be relocated to a jurisdiction that does not practice such draconian methods.  We are exploring many options and I’ll certainly keep you updated, and you can check out the official Save Lennox page here.

I don’t agree with BSL.  But when its failings as a concept and its cruelty in practice are publicly exposed as they have been in the case of Lennox, it truly sickens me.  As supposedly civilized societies, we must begin to realize that we have a responsibility to do what’s right not just for us, but also for the animals that we’ve chosen to domesticate over the past several thousand years.  As a passionate advocate for responsible dog ownership, I am more than aware of the need to find an answer to the issue of increasingly dangerous and common dog bites, especially on children.  (Check out my dog/child safety tips and American Humane’s Pet Meets Baby campaign for more info.)  However we must recognize that human education and awareness are the keys to solving this problem, not banning certain types of dogs.  Any breed of dog can bite, and any breed of dog can be a great family pet.

Hopefully we’ll be able to save Lennox.   Either way, though, his case has helped highlight what’s wrong with BSL and we must make sure that his story has not been told in vain.


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45 thoughts on “Update on Lennox

  1. Gail

    I am deverstated by Lennox and the outcome this baby did nothing wrong
    all because he looks different
    bcc are liars and need to be jailed for perjury
    END BSL NOW

  2. Kenneth Hope

    I don't know what to say! You put it so well, so perfect. My wife and I are working around the clock to support this cause.We will not give up and even if the worst happens we will continue this campaign until all animals receive the care and respect they deserve.

  3. Priya Sawhney

    Dear Victoria.
    I just want to say thank you so so much for helping the family with Lennox. I stand together with many thousands of people around the world to help him. I feel that - since its so obvious bumbling mistakes of justice have been made - it would be best to just save him out of there and I am so glad to read that you are involved and working with this case.
    Candles and lights are on for Lennox tonight across the world. Including from me and my own dog here in Sweden. We pray that humanity and integrity will prevail and Lennox will be granted some years of joy on this earth after 500 days of lonely incarceration.
    Thank you, everyone who is helping to save Lennox. God bless.
    Priya

  4. Kathryn Heyes

    Thank you Victoria for not only a clear, concise and informative article but also for your continued support to Lennox, both professionally and personally. I truly hope that BCC will see sense and in some way allow Lennox to live.

  5. Andrea

    Whichever way this goes, the people who have supported Lennox and his family will not accept this quietly. How often do you see this kind of support for people you don't know? How many more dogs are to be subject to this disgraceful treatment. Poor Lennox has been treated in a manner than not even the vilest criminal has to suffer and for what? Nothing of any worth. Belfast City Council would gain a whole lot of respect the world over if they would just admit they got it wrong. Better a few red faces and the admiration of millions than the blood of an innocent animal on their hands.

  6. Kim Herbert

    This is the best piece I have read in our plight to help Lennox. Please Victoria, keep working for him. You have more authority on this that than most of us and we trust inyou to do what you can. Thank you for this statement. It give sus hope.

  7. Pingback: Update on Lennox by Victoria Stilwell | Paws Around the World

  8. Katie Jones

    I own 6 pit bulls and a rottwieler. They are all rescued. We are forunate to live in a state (Virginia) where BSL is illegal. The way the animal control laws are written here makes it illegal for any animal to be discriminated against based on species , breed or appearance. We are grateful for this, However BSL is an ever present thing in our minds, because we need to travel with our dogs and often have to go out of the way in our travels to avoid areas our dogs are banned , and we know all it would take is One well meaning and misinformed lawmaker to overturn laws in our state so our dogs could be banned. we have a daughter the same age as Lennoxes little girl and she lives with the reality that she could lose her friends the same way that Lennoxes little girl has probably lost him. When a 12 yr old child can get up in front of a room full of people and advocate for her dogs and their breed, it says a lot. It says we have a brave child , but it also says that SHE feels the need to advocate for her pets so they stay alive. Thats sad and shouldnt happen. A child should be able to enjoy their pets without fear thatbthey could be taken from her. What has happened in Lennoxes case and in the case of every single dog that has been killed because of its breed or appearance is simply a tragedy. It is so sad that people allow their fear and lack of education to turn them into murderers of innocent animals. Killing a dog or dogs , just kills a dog or dogs, it doesent solve the HUMAN ISSUES of cruelty , poorownership, lack of responsibility , abuse and dog fighting. We need to focus on these HUMAN RELATED ISSUES, not KILLING DOGS. The dogs cant choose who owns them, the dogs cant fix bad or ignorant or abusive people, the dogs cant choose if they are born. They are dogs and they depend on US to make the right decisions for them. When certian people dont make the right decisions for them , they need to be punished , not their animals. The blood of thousands of precious animal lives are on the hands of people who enact and enforce these barbaric laws, I hope they can live with themselves, because when their time comes , they will pay for their destruction of innocent lives.

  9. Jackie Amor

    There are thousands of people attending the 1 million lights protest on Sunday I hope this shows how much we care.

  10. roberta bown

    i have read the above and like many i am soo disappointed with behaviour of the wardens - lied under oath Grrrrrrrrrrr and i also feel very sorry for the Dogs past and present that are in this man's company.

    if someone punched me and stuck their fingers in my eyes i would Definitely fight my corner and defent myself - no one in their right mind animal/human alike would not stand for this kind of bullying.

    let us have an hour with this so called Peter Tallaght and see if he defends himself against bullying!!!!!

  11. Julia

    This is a measured, intelligent response by an expert. I wonder if anyone will have the courage to reverse this cruel and ignorant decision. There are so many people watching this from around the globe surely noone would be willing to ignore the facts in front of so many?? Would ANYONE PERSON want to look that wrong ? There is a chance to stop this shocking injustice NOW! REVERSE THE DECISION TO DESTROY THIS SAFE, GENTLE, MUCH LOVED FAMILY DOG ASAP!!! If this goes ahead, may God forgive you..

  12. Debbie

    Victoria, you have been amazing in all of this utterly terrible situation and I hope you are right when you say that hopefully we can save Lennox, 7 days have almost passed now, what do you hope will be the next step? Good luck and prayers for Lennox and his family x

  13. Tammy Lord

    There is a place in Texas that will take Lennox,to live for the rest of his life. I know this man,and I've been in touch with him about this issue,and he has agreed to let Lennox stay at his sanctuary.I have mentioned this info. on different pages that are connected to Lennox.I have left his name,his email address and his website.If this place is offering to take Lennox,so he doesn't die,then why hasn't anyone got in touch with him.I don't want to see Lennox die, for such a stupid reason.This man's name is Jay Hellerich,his email address is [email protected]. The website
    is "Smiling Dog Farms" it's located in Wharton Texas. Jay has already saved another dogs life,that was unjustly sentenced to die,in a town in NH .This dog is alive and well.He happens to be a Labrador Retriever. I'm begging you to see if you can get through to the right people about saving Lennox's life.Apparently this info. hasn't reached the right people...or else Lennox's supporters have given up on him,and don't care anymore.LENNOX has a chance to live...let's make it happen.

  14. S.Buell

    I wish I'd been able to view the video's you did, perhaps it's a good thing or they would have inflamed even more anger then the judge accepting perjurious testimony from the three wardens.
    I have to say though that a police or military dog has to deal with a lot more things then the average persons dog does, including crowd control and possible loud bangs of fireworks or gunshots. As a military/police dog handler that may be the way that they were tested, it wouldn't be acceptable for a police dog to attack any time they felt threatened.
    But Lennox isn't a police/military dog, he's a family dog and a 12 year old girl's best friend, he should not be held to a higher standard then any othre family pet just because the BCC is looking for a way to kill him and cover it up. They should all be ashamed of themselves, and if they're voted into office then it's time people used their voting powers to get them out of office.

  15. Sharon Collette

    From you lips to gods ears Victoria <3 thank you for standing by Lennox it is very hard to deal with this miscarriage of justice i pray he is spared and sent to a rescue to save his life . I'm so disappointed in my fellow country men and women in this decision it is sad that people still after all the proof against it that they judge any dog on it's breed instead of where the blame should be levelled on bad owners!!! god bless Lennox and his family .

  16. Tina

    With so many people willing to give Lennox a home in areas where there is no BSL, why won't the Belfast officials allow him to be taken somewhere SANE? Have they commented on this possibility?

  17. Raquel Balocco

    Lennox's life will not be taken or held in vain. Every one of us must give these officials equal amount of pressure and anxiety as they have sadistically imposed on this poor creature. This can NOT go on! This barbarianism must end now, and we have to go on no matter what the results are after the 14th. It is incomprehensible and will not be forgotten.

  18. beth nelson

    I've read and looked at the video of Lennox. This is awful what is happening to this dog, and for that matter any dog in his situation. I had a Lab/ newfound mix that could have been mistaken for a pit bull by ignorant people Dodger was a gentle dog that many people respected because of his size not his looks. My neighbor has a pit bulll that 's greatest joy was to come see me and be petted. The dog you had to watch was my border collie mix that I could walk down town at four in the morning nobody bothered me Nick looked sweet but he woul;d bite if you go to close. My grandfather had a spitz mix that would bite if you got to near his leash my grandfather later used taht same thether to stake out his cow. Its not the pit bulls that are dangerous any dog will protect his family. This dog should be given back to his family and have Victoria rehabilitate it to become a friendly dog or be given to Best Friends where it can also be treated with kindness.

  19. Jackie Amor

    A poem for Lennox - I am putting this on FB 1 million lights for Lennox until they release him. The Lennox Army marches on..

    They took away your freedom and life you had before
    They put you in a cell and said it was the law
    We ARE the Lennox Army and will always be
    We marching to get the law changed and to set you free

    We wont stop till this stupid law that says the way you look
    Locks up innocent dogs and throws away the book
    Don’t give up dear Lennox although there's not much time
    We know you are innocent of any doggie crime

    We've emailed politicians and made them all aware
    The world has all lit candles to show how much we care
    The council must release you and let you home to live
    Or all the world will ignite in anger and never will forgive

  20. Lesley grocock

    Just read this, there are so many people rooting for lennox. It saddens me deeply that he s not back with his loving family. Let's hope he is saved and lives the rest of his life being loved and cared for like he deserves. Shame on all the people involved in his being taken away from that in the first place, don't know how you sleep or live with yourself. Call your self dog experts, what a joke, except it's not funny when n innocent dog will die because of your actions. Makes me sick

  21. Chris Harle

    Perhaps the best way to help with this issue would be to hit Belfast City Council where it hurts most - their pockets. If everyone across the world who supports Lennox's bid for leniency were to write or email BCC stating that if the execution were to go ahead they would boycott Belfast as a potential holiday/vacation destination there's a small possibility that the potential loss of tourist revenue would help sway them.

    Or possibly I'm being too optimistic. It wouldn't hurt to try though.

  22. Dawn Price

    This decision is an absolute travesty and makes a mockery of a 'law' put in place to supposedly safeguard people.
    Anyone who has ever owned and loved a dog knows that despite there being certain 'quirks' associated with particular breeds ultimatley it is the treatment that animal receives that will determine it's behaviour ... exactly the same as human beings.
    Lennox has been brought up in a stable loving environment with completely responsible 'parents' who have abided by the law to the letter, and the thanks they get? A member of their family is ripped away from them simply because he fits a certain criteria. This is simply disgusting and I am completely outraged.
    Where are the police and the Government when it comes to stopping REAL crime? Like dog fighting, illegal puppy farming, badger baiting, abuse towards these gentle, kind, innocent, trusting animals that have done nothing wrong other than to be a loyal and trusting friend to mankind for HUNDREDS of years!!
    I am so disgusted and hugely disappointed by this decision.
    We love you Lennox x
    Dawn, Jet and Duke x

  23. Dawn Price

    Having read thru the comments I noticed that so many people have opened their hearts and their homes to Lennox to offer him an alternative home in the US.
    Which makes me question, where the hell are the UK or Irish based animal charities in this?
    Have they not made the same offer?
    Surely the RSPCA or Dogs Trust (two of the biggest and most well known animal charites over here) can offer some help or some backing in this?
    The ultimate aim must be tho to get Lennox home to the family who must be missing him desperately, to take a best friend from a child, that is where the cruelty lies here,
    And all to make a point.
    Shame on you Belfast Council, shame on you

  24. Barbara Peddle

    To the Belfast City Council....THE EYE"S OF GOD & THE WORLD ARE WATCHING YOU. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD >>> SHOW SOME COMPASSION AND RELEASE LENNOX TO A RESCUE IN ANOTHER JURISDICTION THAT DOES NOT HAVE BSL. DON"T KILL LENNOX! THE WORLD WANTS HIM TO LIVE!

  25. scott,patricia potts

    Lennox sould have the rite to live if he did nothing wrong he sould live. We saved two boxers from death row just because there onwers didn't want them and there great dogs even if there in the bulldog family.Ron's owner was moving to new york where they don't let bulldogs live.(Yes that means boxers too) So he's onwers were going to have him put down. Mario's onwer could't keep him in the apartment because he's abulldog. I grew up with boxers my whole life and some pitbulls and not one of my dog's would hurt anyone unless they were hurting or trying to hurt someone in there family just like a mother or father would do because if raised wright there a family member and will do anything to protect the family.So if Lennox get's along with other dog's we'd be glad to take him in. We live in the country on 5 acres with 2 acres fenced in. LET LENNOX LIVE yours truely scott,patricia Potts

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  27. Sue

    I am heartened to read that the possibility of sparing 'Lennox’s life by allowing him to be relocated to a jurisdiction that does not practice such draconian methods' is being explored, because I think this may truly be the only option left now. Obviously, I would love to see him back home where he belongs, but I fear those responsible for this misguided decision will never back down that far now. Good luck Victoria and everyone fighting so hard for Lennox - my thoughts are with you all.

  28. Liz Brown

    Victoria, I can't tell you how much it means to so many of us that you are standing up for Lennox. There are many well known animal advocates who haven't had the courage to stand up and make their voices heard on this case because they're afraid of the political implications.

    Some dogs are dangerous. Some are Pit Bulls. Some are Pomeranians. If we say it's okay to seize and kill someone's dog because it resembles a dog who looks like a dangerous dog we once saw on the news? That's JUST RACISM.

    Thanks for being brave and standing up for our friend Victoria. I will be a fan for life.

  29. Gillian Shippen

    Reading of the conditions the so called expert testimony of Peter Tallack subjected the dog too - any regular person would have been arrested for animal cruelty - just when did it become ok for someone to taunt, provoke and treat a dog in such a manner, simply to get amn aggressive and because they call themselves an expert. This just doesn't make sense and it is beyond belief - even when shelters do their inaccurate temperament testing they do not subeject dogs to those conditions.
    But it does happen - a dog recently near us was reported for biting (the person that reported the dog bite knew the dog, knows it is a guard dog, knew it had the potential to bite and knew he should not approach the dog especially when it was tied up and the owner was not around.). We witnessed the council's dog inspectors actively provoking the dog over the fence in order to get an aggressive response from it to prove their case - in the end we were so incensed with these people we walked over and told them to leave the dog alone and we would go to the papers if they persisted. Council's lie and fabricate eveidence to suit their own purposes.
    Hopefully some sense will prevail - but it is not likely the council will back down - they will not want to admit they were wrong.

  30. laura

    I have owned a bull terrier and a more gentle and loving dog you would be hard pressed to find... the only time i saw him be aggressive was with another bull terrier... but thats what man created them for....
    if this person was teasing a truely dangerous dog he would have been bitten within 5 minutes.....
    when will man ever learn..........

  31. Charles Davis

    Thank you Victoria for having the courage to stand up for Lennox and tell the truth. The behavior of BCC throughout this whole sage has been appalling throughout, and I sincerely hope this judgement is overturned and Lennox is allowed to go free. I know there was a rescue in Galway just a few miles across the border who offered to take him and I am sure they would be only too happy to sign any documents necessary to remove any responsibility from BCC for Lennox's behaviour in the future. I know this isnt ideal but at least poor Lennox would be alive and out of that hell hole BCC call a kennell. The poor child could at least visit her best friend and know he is well.
    Regardless of the outcome I hope it is brought home to BCC and the rest of the UK that as stated in the Legislation, a judgement such as this requires the testimony of an 'Independent Expert Witness' and not as in this case a Govt paid dog handler like Mr Tallack. Keep up the great work Victoria, this world, and especially Lennox needs more people like you who are prepared to tell it as it is. If there is anything we the thousand of supporters of Lennox can do to help in any way just say the word.

  32. Holly Bruce

    Thank you Victoria for putting into words the appalling injustice that continues to be inflicted on this poor dog. Lennox never hurt anyone in his first 5 years and for the Council's so called experts to insist he has suddenly turned into a killer is absolutely ridicolous. Please continue to do anything you can to save poor Lennox because he doesnt deserve to die because of the gross incompetance of BCC.

  33. Kathleen Fitzgerald

    It breaks my heart to hear of another innocent pitt being condemned. I blame the media in large part for this prejudice, for spreading the sensationalism associated with Pitts. If they were to check their facts they would see that Pitts are not statistically anywhere near the most aggressive breed. We can no more condemn an entire breed anymore than we can condemn an entire race or religion. When we will ever learn this lesson? I work in rescue. I have known, spent time with and loved many Pitts. They are wonderful, loving and playful dogs, full of personality and appreciation for any kindness. They love people, and love to engage with them.

    I am currently running a petition on Change.Org in order to get the Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey to give up fighting for custody of Patrick the Pitt Bull, the poor dog who was starved and abused and found at the bottom of a trash chute in Newark. They want him back in order to use him as a sort of poster child to gain funding. Meanwhile, Patrick has found a home and love with the people who nursed him back to health, and that is where he should stay and the point of the petition. The thing is, to date the petition has less than 500 signatures. I watch other petitions at the same site gain signatures by the thousands every day, for things like burros being shot. These other causes are also extremely worthy, but I have to wonder why Patrick's welfare seems to be so much less important to people so as to gain so few signatures to date. Is it because he is a Pitt Bull? I can't think of any other reason why people wouldn't be jumping at the chance to sign Patrick's petition. I've sent it to over 2,500 contacts but again, less than 500 people have signed. These beautiful dogs must be given the chance to regain the respect and protection they deserve, and which they had before people like Michael Vick came along and ruined their reputations. I'm praying for your Lennox.

  34. Kathleen Fitzgerald

    It breaks my heart to hear of another innocent pitt being condemned. I blame the media in large part for this prejudice, for spreading the sensationalism associated with Pitts. If they were to check their facts they would see that Pitts are not statistically anywhere near the most aggressive breed. We can no more condemn an entire breed anymore than we can condemn an entire race or religion. When we will ever learn this lesson? I work in rescue. I have known, spent time with and loved many Pitts. They are wonderful, loving and playful dogs, full of personality and appreciation for any kindness. They love people, and love to engage with them.

    I am currently running a petition on Change.Org in order to get the Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey to give up fighting for custody of Patrick the Pitt Bull, the poor dog who was starved and abused and found at the bottom of a trash chute in Newark. They want him back in order to use him as a sort of poster child to gain funding. Meanwhile, Patrick has found a home and love with the people who nursed him back to health, and that is where he should stay and the point of the petition. The thing is, to date the petition has less than 500 signatures. I watch other petitions at the same site gain signatures by the thousands every day, for things like burros being shot. These other causes are also extremely worthy, but I have to wonder why Patrick's welfare seems to be so much less important to people so as to gain so few signatures to date. Is it because he is a Pitt Bull? I can't think of any other reason why people wouldn't be jumping at the chance to sign Patrick's petition. I've sent it to over 2,500 contacts but again, less than 500 people have signed. These beautiful dogs must be given the chance to regain the respect and protection they deserve, and which they had before people like Michael Vick came along and ruined their reputations. I'm praying for your Lennox.

  35. Teagan

    Would they allow Lennox to leave the country? With this outpouring of support I would someone would try to save him in that way. I am against BSL but am afraid that Lennox may be an 'example' in support of that legislation rather than an individual case.

    It is all just so sad. I have been particularly horrified by the government's treatment of Lennox, the deprivation of human contact.

  36. Pami

    The attitude of the BCC personifies perfectly the warped mentality of these people who have spent years fighting The Troubles.

    These people have no respect for anyone who thinks differently from themselves. Poor Lennox. I rest my case.

  37. Sue

    The wardens are a lying bunch of. Toerags and the harm they have inflicted on Lennox and the misery they have kept him in for two years ,I wish it all back on them tenfold I . would like to see their lives fall apart and have them lose their comfy houses (they could share with Lennox!!). I hope you all lose everything you have and then you will know how it feels. You're a bunch of lying bullies and it WILL catch up with you all.

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