How Will The Lennox Tragedy Impact BSL In Our Communities?
I have been following this story for sometime now, amazed and saddened by how the Belfast City Council handled the situation. Yesterday, the seven-year old dog that was at the center of a worldwide campaign to save his life, was put to death in Northern Ireland. People all around the world were outraged at Lennox’s death sentence and calls from around the world asking Northern Ireland to spare him were ignored.
Lennox was a Bulldog-Labrador mix that was killed Wednesday after a long, prolonged legal battle. The Belfast City Council decided that Lennox was a danger to the public and that he should be put to sleep. Even though Lennox’s owners claimed that Lennox had never hurt anybody, The Belfast City Council didn’t care. Lennox’s owners claimed that Lennox was being targeted because of his breed. Northern Ireland has a Dangerous Dogs order which states that any dog that is of the pit bull terrier type is considered to be dangerous. The law states that any dog that falls under the definition of dangerous can be seized and killed.
Lennox was seized in May 2010 by the city council dog wardens. After he was seized, his family started an online campaign to try to save Lennox. During this time an online petition to save him had accumulated more than 200,000 signatures at the time he was put to sleep. Despite this online campaign that had followers from all over the world protesting Lennox’s fate, two courts ruled that Lennox should be put down, and after a legal reprieve expired at midnight Tuesday, Lennox was killed.
What makes this even worse, if it could even be any worse, is that Lennox was the family dog and the dog of a young disabled girl. Really…the dog of a disabled girl and they thought the dog was dangerous. Go figure….
The Belfast City Council has published the following on their website:
Dangerous dog is put to sleep following final court decision
11 July 2012
Belfast City Council confirmed today that the dog Lennox, an illegal pit-bull terrier type, has been humanely put to sleep. This was in accordance with the Order of the County Court which was affirmed by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.
Whilst there is an exemption scheme to which dogs of this type (pit-bull terrier type) may be admitted as an alternative to destruction, there were no such measures that could be applied in this case that would address the concerns relating to public safety. The Council`s expert described the dog as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across.
Over the past two years, Council officials have been subjected to a sustained campaign of abuse including threats of violence and death threats. The Council has been in ongoing contact with the PSNI in relation to that.
The Council regrets that the court action was necessary but would emphasise that the safety of the public remains its key priority.
On the “Save Lennox” Facebook page, Lennox’s family wrote that they weren’t allowed to say goodbye to their dog. They weren’t even allowed to visit Lennox for the two years that he was in doggy jail:( I really don’t understand why they weren’t at least allowed to say goodbye. What would that have hurt? The family just wanted to be with Lennox so he wouldn’t be alone during this time and his last memories would be memories of his family. Now really, what would that have hurt? Lennox’s family was told that they would be sent some of Lennox’s ashes in the mail. How considerate…and yes, I am being sarcastic?
The following statement was published on Lennox’s Facebook Page:
Lennox was murdered at 7am this morning, the family weren’t allowed to say goodbye, his family were refused to be allowed to be by his side.
Love you pup, you will forever be remembered for your bravery, the amazing people you brought together, and for those you helped.
You are loved sweet boy, run free, we will meet again someday, you will always be alive in the hearts of many who fought for you.
No longer at the hands of those that cause you pain.
Victoria Stillwell, television dog training expert, was one of Lennox’s supporters. She had offered to have Lennox rehomed in America where he could live out his life. She had offered to pay for all expenses to have Lennox transported back to America. Lennox’s family had agreed to this proposition. They wanted Lennox to live out his life if possible, even if it was without them ever being able to see him again. But the Belfast City Council turned down this offer. I ask, why would they not even consider this offer? It would have been best for Lennox and everyone concerned. Instead, they put him down. What kind of people are they?
The Dangerous Dog order has come under fire for being too harsh and too breed-specific. It was passed in 1991. Even the two largest Northern Ireland veterinary associations have said they believe the legislation should change, and dogs should be assessed based on their deeds, not their breed.
Even First Minister Mr. Robinson intervened and called on the council to reconsider. He said: “As a dog lover I am very unhappy with the outcome of this case.” Robinson also 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?”
I am having a hard time understanding why, when so many people all around the world were against this…even the First Minister…why the Belfast City Council would go ahead and rule to put Lennox to death? Everyone everywhere has to speak up against BSL before it gets out of hand. Our friend Hero at Canine Comments had a great idea for everyone to blog about BSL on the same day. How many of you would consider it?
My husband works in the insurance industry and he shared an email with me that he received about blacklisted breeds of dogs due to their risk history. The email said that particular breeds have been blacklisted by some insurance companies and even homeowners associations. These breeds are:
- Pit bulls
- Chow chows
- German shepherds
- Doberman pinschers
- Presa Canario bulldogs
- Great Danes
The email went on to say that the best thing you can do is make precautions to minimize risks. Dog lessons, fences, and any other preventative measures to protect yourself and to protect others is recommended and that dog training classes will greatly reduce the likelihood of an attack and give you a greater amount of comfort in controlling your dog.
Did you know 50% of all dog bites occur on the homeowners property. Dogs are very territorial, and without proper training, your home can become a danger to others, so it is important and wise to invest in dog training classes. Here are some more dog bite statistics from the American Humane Society:
- An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year
- Nearly 800,000 dog bites require medical care
- Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered
- Approximately 25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs
- Approximately 71% of bites occur to the extremities (arms, legs, hands, feet)
- Approximately two-thirds of bites occurred on or near the victim’s property, and most victims knew the dog
- The insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year
- At least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S.
- Approximately 24% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off of their owners’ property
- Approximately 58% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property
The Numbers – Why Insurance Companies Increase Liability Costs For Homeowners With Dogs:
- There were more than 16,292 dog bite insurance claims last year alone.
- In 2011, the average claim paid to a victim of a bite was $29,400.
- Many states make dog owners legally liable for deaths or injuries caused by their dogs.
If you are considering adding a dog as a member of your family, please check out your homeowner rules, apartment rules, insurance policies and anything else that might in the end result in your having to give your dog up for adoption. Educate yourself, gain professional advice and insight on particular breeds and practices before you go out and bring a dog home to be a part of your family.
This is what the American Human Society says about Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL):
- In response to the dog-bite statistics above, many communities have enacted breed-specific legislation (BSL) that prohibits ownership of certain breeds, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers and others.
- Any breed of dog can bite, and research suggests BSL does little to protect the community from dog-bite incidents.
- In fact, BSL can often have unintended consequences — such as black-market interest and indiscriminant breeding practices — resulting in subsequent breed overpopulation that leads to increases in the number of homeless, stray and euthanized dogs.
- Enforcement of BSL has been shown to be very costly and extremely difficult to enforce. One county in Maryland spent more than $560,000 maintaining pit bulls (not including payroll, cross-agency costs and utilities), while fees generated only $35,000.
- Responsible breeding and ownership, public education and enforcement of existing laws are the most effective ways of reducing dog bites.
- American Humane supports local legislation to protect communities from dangerous animals, but does not advocate laws that target specific breeds of dogs.
If you aren’t aware of BSL, check out our friend Hawk’s post over at browndogcbr. You might be surprised to see the long list of banned breeds or restricted dogs. Check it out. It might get your blood boiling, if it isn’t already!
While there are those that believe in BSL, I believe that the way a dog acts has a lot to do with how the dog is raised. I believe that if a dog is treated right, trained, loved and all that good stuff, he won’t be a dangerous dog! I believe that a dog should be treated with respect, loved, taken care of and they will take care of you. Besides, we hear a lot of bad things about Pit Bulls…what about the good things? I have read so many stories about Pit Bulls and how they have saved their owners lives…how can this breed be so bad that they have to be banned? While you may not agree with me, I feel very strongly about BSL and think it should be done away with. Dogs should not be discriminated against because of their breed, but should be assessed based on their deeds.
As our friend Hawk says: “I hope y’all will become better acquainted with the problem of BSL or Breed Specific Legislation and we can all try to address the problem by educating others, including our politicians to ban the deed and irresponsible ownership rather than an entire breed.” Makes sense to me, how about you?
Filed under: Dog News
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