Thousands mourn execution of Belfast dog Lennox after years of efforts to save him fail

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Perhaps the only good thing we can take out of the long incarceration and murder of Lennox, the black terrier-mix mutt whose only crime was to resemble a pit bull in Northern Ireland where the breed is banned, is that his plight inspired thousands of people from all walks of life all over the globe to mobilize against the injustice he fell victim to.

Lennox was seized in May 2010 by the City of Belfast in Northern Ireland for looking like a pit bull. After more than two years of legal battles, a petition with more than 200,000 signatures, a Facebook page liked by 119,000 people, numerous protests outside the British Consulate, an offer by celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stillwell to adopt and re-home Lennox in the United States and even a plea by First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson who tweated “Spoke to Lord Mayor about Lennox. Suggested BCC should seriously look at re-homing option. Why exercise the order if there’s an alternative?”, Lennox was killed on order of the Belfast City Council without ever being allowed a visit by his desperate human family.

The anger, disappointment and raw hurt going through the newly formed community of people who made this dog’s unjust persecution a personal issue is palpable. Many people simply cannot believe that all of their efforts – especially the obvious re-homing alternative – fell on the Belfast City Council’s deaf ears and dead hearts.

They complained of getting death threats and being harassed over their obstinate insistence that years of solitary confinement in a concrete enclosure ending in death was the only appropriate treatment of a family dog who had never bitten anyone. While death threats and harassment are obviously counterproductive, they were actions of desperation from people who felt the pure injustice of the case and clearly suffered from the inability of logic and compassion to convince a handful of people to use their power to exercise mercy rather than death.

According to, the city council not only refused to allow the family to say goodbye to their family member, return the body for burial or notify them of when they were actually killing the dog, but now is refusing to return Lennox’s collar to the family’s 11-year-old girl, Brooke, who is registered as disabled. The site describes how because of Brooke’s illness, she bonded with Lennox as she was not able to play with other children.

Hollywood could hardly have conjured a more perfect villain than the Belfast City Council. The tragedy at every twist in this story is hard to stomach – a canine family member taken from its loving home because of its resemblance to a certain breed, living for years in a filthy, barren, concrete kennel, confused and alone and waiting for its family to come and get him, and then ultimately killed. If this had happened to a human it would be considered racism at its worst.

Breed specific laws exist all over the world. While it’s true that pit bulls have been bred throughout the ages to fight one another, they are not doomed to that fate. They thrive in loving families just like any other canine and should not be singled out for death simply because they have inherited traits that we created in the first place. Aggressive behavior has been shown to be more of a problem with inadequate care rather than a dog’s breed.

Lennox in his cell
Lennox in his cell.

Hopefully this pointless and easily avoidable tragedy will help to shed light on misdirected breed specific legislation that completely bans dogs that even look like pit bulls.

Certain legislation, like San Francisco’s law that requires all pit bulls living in the city to be spayed or neutered, is more reasonable than outright bans. While the law was passed with the intent to minimize dog bites, it may actually help to decrease the huge number of pit bulls killed in shelters across the United States.

Pit Bull Advocate 101 reports that one million of the three to four million animals killed in shelters every year are pit bulls, and that 75 percent of U.S. shelters kill this breed upon arrival with no period offering them for adoption.

Requiring spay and neuter for pit bulls is a start as they suffer the most from our throwaway culture, but rather than being based on discrimination and hysteria, spay/neuter laws should extend to all species of companion animals so that at some point they will be considered the true treasures and blessings that they are, instead of an easily acquired, self-serving form of amusement so often abandoned when the new puppy smell wears off.

Lennox is gone, there is no going back. Let’s move forward with a renewed energy to combat cruelty and injustice to all animals.

Meanwhile, you can avoid visiting Belfast, and tell the Belfast City Council exactly what you think about their actions: Belfast City Council complaint form.

  • Tina Page

    Tina is a journalist and mother of three who's lived all her life in the South Bay of Los Angeles except for a two-year stint in the heart of Spain. She believes humans have the capacity to make this a beautiful world for all species to live, and mothers have a special charge to raise their children to enjoy, love and respect all creatures.

5 thoughts on “Thousands mourn execution of Belfast dog Lennox after years of efforts to save him fail”

  1. What the hell???I can’t believe this, this is unfair!!!!!!!!!!!
    What’s wrong with this justice? Alf, Animal Rights activists goes to jail and the law kills animals? They can’t stop the liberation.

  2. I can’t even fathom the depth of this family’s grief and desperation, or that poor, beautiful, innocent dog’s despair. Nor can I grasp the extent of such a malicious act of needless cruelty so unimaginably heartless as to render it totally incomprehensible.
    Not only did they not have the decency to return Lennox – who had done nothing wrong and had never hurt a living soul – to his traumatized family, and just admit that they had made a mistake, they did not even at least have the compassion to release him into the arms of those here in the US that wanted him and would have loved him unconditionally.
    And to refuse any visitation, or a final good-bye, or even the return of his body for burial or his collar to the disabled little girl who loved him, points to an indescribable bankruptcy of spirit and atrocity of deed. It also begs the question of whether this beautiful dog was even still alive:
    The petty and vindictive actions of BCC throughout this tragedy have been suspect from the outset.
    For Lennox and the Barnes family, I send my unending love and prayers for what you have all suffered. I am truly heartbroken over this. Dearest Lennox, know always how much you were loved – and always will be. You have earned your wings, precious one – soar with angels and know you will be with your family again one day.
    For the BCC – common decency, and the law, prevents the kind of justice many, through tears and outrage, may wish upon you. But – for allowing your ego and spite to destroy an innocent soul and his family, may Karma rain down upon you and yours with a ferocity so severe as to be as equally unimaginable as your utterly depraved indifference to all that is humane.
    May God forgive you. I, alas, cannot.
    And we will not forget.

    • Thank you for your posted letter. I wish you would forward it to The Belfast City Council – Complaint
      Dept. The direct e mail address is posted along with all the innumerable on line sites now and
      through the petitions. Your letter is an excellent one – balanced, strong, appropriate and to the
      heart of it. The time is now for BSL to be obliterated. Charlett Hobart New York

  3. You left out one VERY IMPORTANT detail in all this which makes this especially tragic.

    Lennox was murdered for resembling a pit bull, according to the dolts at the BCC and their dog wardens.

    However, he was in fact a Labrador Retriever / American Bulldog cross, neither of which is a banned breed and which had been PROVEN by DNA– the DNA was on file along with his papers, registration, etc. Mrs. Barnes, like EVERY responsible dog owner, had followed the law completely.

    They had proof that he wasn’t a banned breed but it didn’t matter to these monsters. They’re heartless, inhuman beasts.

    If you take a good hard look at Lennox, you see a BLACK LAB, not a pit bull! They even used copyrighted standards ILLEGALLY to ‘prove’ he was a pit- the reason these ‘standards’ are copyrighted and are not allowed to be used by anyone is that too many dogs, like Lennox, who were Boxers, Labs, Bulldogs, etc, were being killed for meeting those measurements. Lennox was 2 of those breeds. Not only did the dog wardens break the law (in several ways, not just this one), but they defied common sense in every possible way.

    The evil, soulless pooh-heads on the BCC didn’t care that the world was watching them. They were intent on giving us all the middle finger while murdering an innocent dog. However, they forgot God was watching, too…….


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