On July 11, 2012, a beloved and innocent dog named Lennox was killed, after spending 785 days all alone in "secret kennels"; held by the Belfast City Council in Northern Ireland. On this sad anniversary, it is fitting to reflect on Lennox and what his life and death have meant.
Lennox was killed because of no other reason than the measurements of a tape measure, based on the regulations of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA), which is the United Kingdom's version of breed-specific legislation (BSL). These laws have brought about the deaths of thousands of innocent dogs, just like Lennox, who have never lifted a paw in harm against another living being, but rather are killed simply because of their looks and their breed. Innocent little puppies who have never had even a chance at life are murdered every single day because of these laws.
The story of Lennox was followed in this column beginning on March 30, 2011. Over the ensuing time, there always remained the staunch hope by both Lennox's family, as well as the advocacy community, that Lennox would be allowed to live. It seemed unthinkable that an innocent dog whose only crime was the measurement of a seamstress' tape measure would be senselessly murdered, and that common sense would prevail. However, for reasons that to this day have never been explained, the Belfast City Council dug in their heels and flatly refused every single offer made that could have saved Lennox's life. Offers were made to rehome Lennox outside of Northern Ireland, with an offer even coming from the United States, and yet the Council refused to even consider any of it.
Lennox was extensively evaluated, both by very qualified dog behavioral specialists as well as by someone with very questionable training in animal behavior, who was assigned to the case by the Council. It was clear from the verdict that the judge hearing the case dismissed the analyses that indicated Lennox was not a dangerous dog, and instead relied on the testimony of the far-less-qualified individual. In doing so, Lennox's fate was sealed and he was ordered killed. This man's testimony was that Lennox was a dangerous dog, and with that testimony, Lennox was sentenced to die.
Under the DDA, dogs who are determined to be "of type" are ripped from their loving families and housed away in "secret kennels", while their families try to battle through the court system to get them back home. No one is allowed to know where they are, and the families are forbidden from seeing their beloved dogs. For 785 days, Lennox sat all alone in a stark kennel, having no idea what he had done to deserve to be punished in that way. Through it all, he remained calm and gentle. All Lennox wanted was to be reunited with his loving family.
Lennox's family fought a battle through the courts that can only be described as grueling and epic. Advocates stepped up to help, and people from around the globe began letter-writing campaigns, candlelight vigils, and protests, trying desperately to save this precious dog's life. But, everything fell on deaf ears. While many believe that Lennox was already dead and it had been kept a secret from the family, the very brief formal announcement about his murder came on July 11, 2012 at the Belfast City Council website.
Even after his death, there was no mercy shown to his family. Their simple request to have his collar for Brooke, the daughter who loved Lennox with all of her heart went unanswered, and they were not allowed to have his body. The heartbreak of these final cruel acts were outrageous, and the unfairness of it all was crushing for everyone, but most especially for Brooke, the young girl who had begged for mercy for her "bestest friend" for over two years.
What remains is that Lennox did not die in vain. Thanks to him, people who had never heard of the DDA or BSL finally learned about it. Thanks to Lennox, changes began to happen in areas around the world, with BSL laws being changed or eliminated. Sadly, the DDA still remains in the United Kingdom, but battles are being waged every day to try and get the laws changed and/or repealed. Lennox's legacy is that he brought about the education of the public to the insanity of BSL, and shined glaring and bright lights onto the dark acts of killing even tiny, innocent puppies because of these laws. Lennox's life mattered, both to his devoted family as well as to the animal advocacy community as a whole.
Today, we mourn the loss of precious Lennox. He will never be forgotten by his family or by the advocacy community who rallied around all of them during those dark times. The fight in his name wages on, and will not end until every single BSL law has been eliminated, and every shred of truth about what really happened to Lennox is known.
We will never forget you precious Lennox. Know that your life mattered so much, and you were loved by thousands who had never even met you. Rest with the angels sweet boy.
Click here to read the initial March 30, 2011 article, "Lennox – Death by tape measure?".
Click here for the "The Lennox Campaign" website.
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