12 July 2012This is the leaked video as viewed on YoutubeThe story of the seizure of Lennox, a Belfast dog killed under the United Kingdom's Dangerous Dog Act, captured emotions across the world.
Lennox was condemned to die because he looked like a "pit bull type" dog, and consequently, the Belfast City Council asserted that he had to be destroyed to protect the public. However, a video which has just surfaced seems to contradict the Belfast City Council's description of Lennox as "a dangerous dog".
The dog was removed from his family's home by Belfast dog wardens who, although Lennox was registered as a "bulldog", and had no history of aggression or complaints, took the dog anyway. Lennox was subsequently sentenced to die because his appearance met the standard physical measurements which were deemed indicative of "a dangerous dog", under the 1991 Dangerous Dog Act.
This video, dated March 15, 2011, allegedly shows Lennox being tested for temperament by David Ryan, a dog behavior expert hired by the Barnes family to assess the dog.
His owners, the Barnes family, fought in the courts for two years to save their pet's life - a battle which they ultimately lost on July 11, 2012, when Lennox was put to sleep by Belfast authorities.
Facing worldwide outrage, the Belfast City Council insisted they had no choice; Lennox was so dangerous, they alleged that, in the interests of public safety, they were forced to euthanize him. In fact, they said, the dog was so vicious that they could not allow him to be re-homed; not even with celebrity dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell.
Now a video has surfaced on Facebook which reportedly shows Lennox, on a leash, being tested for temperament. The leash is held by a woman alleged to be Sandie Lightfoot, the dog warden responsible for the chain of events that led to Lennox's murder. The man in the video is reportedly David Ryans, a dog behavior expert hired by the family to do an assessment of Lennox without any prejudice. Ryans was one of two dog behavior experts who examined Lennox, and who both testified to the court that the dog showed no sign of aggression.
In the video, the dog is relaxed and friendly. He sits on command, and waits for a treat. Several times, he attempts to lick both people in a visibly friendly and playful manner.
The video is dated March 15, 2011. This is long after both Lightfoot and the Belfast City Council had alleged that Lennox was aggressive towards people. The video shows no signs of aggression. Moreover, Lightfoot, who by this time certainly had interacted with Lennox several times, shows no nervousness at being around the dog, at all.
Many questions have been raised about Lennox's case. The decision of the Belfast City Council to press forward with his execution, when they had other, viable options available to them, is perplexing. Their resolute decision to turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the world to spare Lennox's life, and to refuse to allow the family to see their pet - not even once - in the two years they held Lennox has garnered Belfast nothing but bad publicity and ill-will.
This video, which appears to contradict the Council's rationale for putting an innocent family pet to death, will only add to the growing chorus of voices demanding answers.