Official Statement From Lennox’s Family

We apologise for the silence as we know our many friends and supporters around the world have been desperate for news but until we had further talks with our legal team we had nothing new to share. We needed to explore all possible options before we issued another statement as we did not wish to give those that have campaigned so tirelessly any false hope or for anything to be taken out of context as has happened in the past.

Whilst there may well be errors in the Judge’s ruling from a point of law this has little bearing on whether we can or should progress by taking the case to a higher court. The ruling is based on the Judge’s decision that he deems Lennox to be unsafe despite evidence given by those qualified to assess and understand dog behaviour that contradicts the testimony of the Prosecution that was presented in court. This has given us little room for manoeuvre.

Our concern and priority has always been the welfare of our beloved boy. We have fought to have Len returned to our family from the moment he was seized but we have been advised that the legal fight is at an end. We are obviously distraught but have to consider the impact that any future lengthy legal battle would have on Len if we chose to go against the advice that we have been given. We cannot subject him to any more as there are no grounds for a further appeal and we do not wish to prolong his suffering any longer by engaging in a battle that we simply cannot win.

We have attempted to write this statement many, many times but have struggled to put in writing that the fight to spare Lennox’s life may well be over. It has been almost impossible for us to accept that we have to admit defeat. We always believed that there was some hope and that justice would prevail. We were wrong. There have been many dark days for us since Len was taken and we want you all to know that it is your support and kindness that kept us going through the blackest times.

This is all we can share with you at the moment and we are finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that there is nothing more that we can do from a legal point of view and that Lennox may well be killed. We have one last hope that Belfast City Council will allow Lennox to be rehomed in the USA. The offer is there but we have no say in whether this offer will be accepted. We have never refused to rehome Lennox. That decision was taken out of our hands from the moment Len took his final walk with us from our house to the Dog Wardens van.
If the offer is turned down we will fight for our right to say goodbye. We cannot bear the thought that Lennox will die without being reminded of the hearts and hands that love him.

Thank you.

Wednesday 13th June 2012 – Official Press Statement From Lennox’s Family

We would like to thank everyone for the countless messages that we have received in the last 24 hours during what is a very difficult time for our family and for the support we have had from so many since Lennox was seized in 2010. The past two years have been extremely distressing for many reasons and we appreciate that this has been a very emotive case for dog lovers worldwide who have spoken out against the failings of Breed Specific Legislation. We take some comfort in the knowledge that we are not the only ones to be devastated by the recent ruling. We are in talks with our legal team and will make another statement in due course.

Thank you

America’s Huffington Post Feature Lennox Article

America’s largest news website the Huffington Post today published Lennox’s story. The article by columnist Joan Smith reads as follows:

An Outrage In Belfast:
The Sad Case Of Lennox, The Dog.


The Huffington Post LogoThose of us living in what we consider free societies often feel secure that if we comply by laws, pay our taxes, and maintain other civic duties we should not live in fear of government officials entering our homes and disrupting our families.

Not so in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where a tragic situation that is nothing short of Orwellian has played out for over two years. Lennox, a Labrador/American Bulldog mix, was seized from the Barnes family under the U.K.’s “Dangerous Dogs Act” (DDA) and sentenced to death due simply to his physical measurements. Under the DDA, if a dog’s measurements are in line with their standard for “pit bull types”, the dog can be seized without warrant and sentenced to death (a recent amendment stipulates the that the dog must also be proven dangerous). The DDA assumption that physical traits dictate a dog’s behavioral tendencies is contradicted by well known dog experts and virtually every major veterinary, animal control, and emergency medical associations worldwide – all of whom have spoken out against these laws .

It’s hard to image a more unlikely target for the law than the Barnes family. Lennox is an American Bulldog/Labrador mix who had never been reported for any act of aggression, and in fact had never exhibited a single sign of misbehavior. He is not only a family pet, but has served as a therapy dog and soulmate for a disabled girl, Brook Barnes, who is now 13. Lennox’s family had provided a stable, loving home environment. He had been microchipped, neutered, DNA registered, insured, and even had a valid city-issued dog license. By all accounts, Caroline Barnes, a former veterinary nurse, is a model pet owner.

Yet on May 19, 2010, the City of Belfast saw fit to turn their world upside down, in the most baffling way imaginable: Two dog wardens (who operate under the auspices of Belfast City Council) came knocking at the Barnes door bearing a warrant with an entirely different address; it’s still unclear whether the visit was a simple mistake or prompted by Ms. Barnes’ recently renewing the city dog license. The Barnes related that after smoking cigarettes and pleasantly chatting over tea, they produced a tape with which they measured Lennox; they then announced they were seizing him because, by their assessment of his measurements, he was “of type.*

That was nearly two years ago. Since then, in spite of massive worldwide outcry, including pleas from noted dog behavioral experts and celebrities, a petition that now bears over 127,000 signatures, and a growing “Boycott Belfast” movement, Lennox has been held in a secret location while the family pitches a desperate legal battle for his life.

It’s no exaggeration to say that prosecution case against Lennox has been rife with inconsistencies, errors, and even accusations of perjury. The absurd twists and cast of characters could make this case darkly comic — Samuel Butler or Dickens would have had a romp with it — if it didn’t ultimately hinge on one innocent life, and the suffering of a heartbroken girl.

One would think the case would have been put to bed in September 2011, after two expert animal behaviorists, Sarah Fisher and David Ryan, presented the results of their separate, extensive evaluations of Lennox. Both came to the conclusion that Lennox is friendly and of no danger, and presented these reports to the court.

Inexplicably, the judge dismissed those evaluations, and instead relied on the opinion of one Peter Tallack, a police dog handler and noted supporter of the DDA, whose official role in the case was simply “breed identifier.” In a quirky bit of testimony, a flustered Tallack offered the opinion that Lennox was “waiting to go off,”

Apparently using this as the basis, Judge Rodgers called Lennox “a disaster waiting to happen” in a ruling that upheld Lennox’s death sentence not on the basis of any past or current behavior, but on a projection that he might be aggressive at some point in the future. (Imagine if a human defendant were convicted on these grounds!)

When the defense appealed again in late January of this year, the case was reviewed by the very same Judge Rodgers, who – surprise – chose not to overturn his own ruling.

Outrage sums up the reaction of Victoria Stilwell, celebrity dog trainer and host of the program “It’s Me or the Dog,” with whom I spoke earlier this year. Stilwell has been outspoken in her support for Lennox, devoting a number of articles and a podcast to it, and against breed specific legislation in general (which she sums up as “addressing the wrong end of the leash”). Stilwell has studied the video assessments of Lennox and reviewed Sarah Fisher’s report, and simply can’t believe the judge would have taken the word of Tallack – who is, by his own admission, not a behaviorist – over the the opinions of two highly regarded professionals.

Concurring with Stilwell is Jim Crosby, a dog trainer and expert in canine aggression. By his account, he has personally assessed more dogs involved in fatal attacks than anyone else on the planet. He stresses that breed is most certainly not a factor in determining whether a dog is dangerous or not; it is the individual characteristics of a dog. This is a man who knows aggressive animals, and he cries foul in the Lennox case. “This poor dog didn’t do anything, he was minding his own business, happily at home,” he said in a January conversation. “That’s the baffling thing.”

Also like Stilwell, Crosby questions why the testimony of Tallack, a police dog handler, was given credence by the judge. He says to have someone with Tallack’s highly focused skill set evaluate a family dog like Lennox for aggressive tendencies is “like asking a guy who works on Piper plane to repair the space shuttle.” It’s a very different type of dog in a completely different situation.

Both Stilwell and Crosby continue to speak out passionately about the Lennox case, and Stilwell has especially expressed alarm over evidence that Lennox’s health is deteriorating further, based on photo evidence showing massive hair loss and sores.

A final appeal to high court is set for May 24. If it is ruled that Lennox cannot be returned to his family, the defense is asking at least to allow a friendly party in the Republic of Ireland (where there is no breed specific legislation) to adopt him.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Belfast, a family’s beloved pet – a dog who has never spent so much as a day in a boarding kennel — remains locked in a small dank cell surrounded by sawdust and feces, a victim of misused policy and a few humans who would rather see him put to death than admit a mistake. Now, that’s a crime.

Article Source & Courtesy Joan K. Smith, Huffington Post

Lennox In The So Called Care Of Belfast City Council

Victoria Stilwell “Shocked” At Lennox Health Condition

Victoria Stilwell, celebrity dog trainer and presenter of hit TV show “It’s Me Or The Dog” has openly spoken out in support of Lennox since hearing of his plight in 2010. After extensively studying all Lennox assessment videos Victoria also submitted her own report as an expert dog behaviourist to the Northern Ireland courts stating that Lennox poses no danger to public and that he clearly demonstrates amazing self control even while put under stressful circumstances, however as we now know Judge Rodgers in the September 2011 appeal hearing decided to ignore all expert evidence presented to him from such experts as Sarah Fisher, Victoria Stilwell and past evidence held on record by David Ryan, instead Judge Rodgers accepted the non expert evidence from Peter Tallack a retired police dog handler who admits not having any behavioural expertise.

Victoria Stilwell Positively Podcast On Lennox – Full Version

In the October 2011 edition of Victoria Stilwell’s Positively Podcast the main topic was Lennox. In this edition Victoria spoke about many things regarding the Lennox case and she also expressed concern regarding Lennox’s current skin condition after she had witnessed his poor fur condition and awful sores visible on his skin whilst she had been compiling her report from various assessment videos. Lennox always had a slight skin condition and such was well controlled and treated by his family while at home and many people who know Lennox and had seen Lennox prior to his seizure by the Belfast City Council dog warden would not have been at all aware that he had a skin aliment due to the ongoing treatment and quality of care his family had been giving Lennox. Speaking to her co-host about Lennox’s skin condition whilst in the so called care of Belfast City Council, Victoria stated that she was “shocked” after studying the assessment video by expert behaviourist Sarah Fisher. Victoria also explained how Lennox has a neck injury which Sarah Fisher also picked up on during her assessment of Lennox and along with bleeding from around the nail bed on one of his paws which David Ryan had also noted remains untreated by Belfast City Council to this day. Its now at this point people reading should note that Lennox had no injuries anywhere on his body before his seizure except a small scar from his neutering operation many years previous. Lennox’s condition shortly after seizure by Belfast City Council was also noted and mentioned by council dog wardens in their statements from which he was described as a dog in good health, after an apparent check over by a council contracted vet. Its unknown how Lennox’s neck and foot injury were obtained but one thing that is certain is that Lennox had none of these injuries prior to his seizure nor was he covered in massive bald patches or open sores. Many respectable veterinarians or those who are very knowledgeable of animal anatomy can explain that such a neck injury in a dog can come about by means of being pulled or yanked at force whilst having a chain type collar, heavy rope or even a catch pole placed around their necks and of course such injuries may come about due to simple rough play but many people already know and realise that given Lennox’s condition already most are sure Lennox hasn’t seen any form of play since his happy days at home with his family, furthermore given the powers that the USPCA have why have they not stepped in as this is clearly a case of cruelty, Lennox is being allowed to go without any proper medical attention, there’s simply no words or excuse for allowing this to happen and Belfast City Council can put whatever twist they want on this, it’s down right abusive and its cruel! Lennox is in the care of Belfast City Council and their contracted kennel so why isn’t he receiving adequate care?

In shock and concern Victoria further described to her positively podcast co-host and her listeners from around the globe what she had witnessed on the assessment videos taken while in the ‘care’ of Belfast City Council. Referring to Lennox’s poor skin and fur condition Victoria, with an air of sickening disbelief in her voice said “that condition is not being treated properly, that dog’s fur does not need to be like that” co-host Holly, replied “it’s abusive.”

Belfast City Council’s expert Peter Tallack is also discussed in Victoria’s podcast about Lennox. Victoria explains to her listeners that Peter Tallack who has no skills in dog behaviour, who is not a behaviourist and who does not understand dog behaviour but is paid by Belfast City Council to act as their expert was allowed by Judge Rodgers to give evidence as such. Victoria, in reference to Judge Rodgers acceptance of non expert evidence from Peter Tallack said ” the courts would rather go with untrained, unqualified evidence rather than evidence from two trained, two qualified behavioural experts who both assessed Lennox and said he was not a danger” Lennox supporters around the world now know that Peter Tallack admits himself he is no behaviourist so why was it then that he based any of his assessment report on such? Why was it that Judge Rodgers allowed such a bad stage act to progress? Why was it that Judge Rodgers ignored the evidence of two highly skilled behavioural experts being David Ryan and Sarah Fisher who both agree Lennox is not a danger? and why did Judge Rodgers ignore all the other expert evidence given in Lennox’s defence and instead opt to accept the non expert opinion of Peter Tallack? To set the scene and give some history on Peter Tallack, he is on record as saying that an effective means to controlling a non cooperative dog is to be able to kick, punch or even step on a dog, although strange and quite disturbingly he did once serve time as a dog handler within the Metropolitan Police where he finally retired a Police Constable after holding the position for twenty five years, furthermore any Google or other search online will list the Met Police dog bite statistics which makes for very alarming reading considering that many of the bites recorded were caused by Police dogs to their own Police dog handlers.

Victoria, on closing of her October 2011 Positively podcast stated that from what she has witnessed of all assessment videos taken of Lennox while in Belfast City Council captivity that she saw a dog who surrounded by strangers demonstrated “incredible impulse control and an intent not to harm, I don’t think Lennox is a dangerous dog, I think he needs to go back to his family.”

You can listen to the Victoria Stilwell Positively podcast about Lennox by clicking on the ‘Click To Play’ link toward the top of this article. The pictures contained within this article are some of those taken from one of Lennox’s assessment videos and show the skin and fur condition that Victoria Stilwell is referring to in her podcast.

A small group of people, who they themselves, claim to be supporters, friends and even show listed as Facebook friends of a certain Belfast City Council dog warden released small, carefully planned snippets of Lennox’s assessment videos and documents last year online before the video’s had been shown in court, videos that they shouldn’t have had in their possession but if one of their posts from Facebook (see below image) is to be believed and true then one of them called Ann did admit online that she was contacted by someone within the council, offered and sent copies of Lennox’s assessment videos and documents.

Ann (Warden Friend) admits Being Contacted By Belfast City Council & Offered Then Sent Evidence DVD's & Documents Not Yet Seen By Court

These same people posted small edited pieces of video online in an attempt to portray Lennox in a bad light and to hopefully discredit the real experts acting for Lennox but unknowingly to them they actually helped show the world just how well of a self controlled, well behaved and beautiful dog Lennox actually is even after being looked up by strangers and neglected for two years. The obvious question is however, why didn’t these hateful people post the full video instead of edited snippets? Maybe its because it would have shown the world the truth, how Lennox isn’t a danger as his family and three real experts have stated all along, maybe it was because had they released the full video which they have then the world would have seen the horrendous skin condition that Lennox is being made to suffer whilst in the ‘care’ of Belfast City Council. The same small group of people in an attempt to disrupt Lennox’s case also setup fake duplicate Facebook profiles of certain Save Lennox campaigners and proceeded to post each other threatening and abusive messages online, screen capturing the messages and again distributing the screen captures online in aid to claim they had been sent from genuine Save Lennox supporters and campaigners, not satisfied there, the same people then recently setup a fake forum on which they posted fake messages and comments pretending to be from Save Lennox campaigners in an attempt to raise and secure funds, this group then screen captured the fake messages and sent them to Belfast City Council’s legal department who also attempted to act upon false information sent to them again in an attempt to disrupt and even bring a halt to innocent Lennox’s fight for life, however in their rush to help supply fake screen captures to Belfast City Council’s legal department the person who setup the fake forum and those who posted fake comments on the same forum did not realise that their IP addresses had been captured revealing their real identity. Thankfully this small group of twisted individuals failed in their attempts and Lennox’s legal hearing case goes ahead. More on this will be published in the coming weeks. Read Sarah Fisher’s statement on the leaked video edits here.

Courtesy of savelennox.co.uk

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Victoria Stilwell Speaks About BSL & Lennox

Victoria Stilwell

Celebrity dog trainer and presenter of hit TV show “It’s Me Or The Dog” has joined ranks with many hundreds of thousands of worldwide supporters and celebrities such as Alyssa Milano, Anthony Head, Kelly Osbourne, Sam Fox, Boy George, Ian Somerhalder, Perez & Teddy Hilton, Sophia Bush and Cesar Millan to name but a few calling for the abolishment of BSL and the immediate release of Lennox back to his family. Victoria Stilwell posted on her forum:

“Lennox’s  family have done more than required by the law as responsible dog owners who also foster dogs for various Northern Ireland dog shelters. When Lennox was a puppy his owners had him neutered, licensed, insured, DNA registered, Pet Safe registered and micro chipped and although the Belfast City Council have issued a dog licence for Lennox for the last five years and continue to do so today, the Council now find the need to class him as a Pit Bull type dog and euthanize him.

I have personally joined the fight to bring Lennox back to his loving home, having spoken at length by phone with his owner. After discussing the situation, I came away thoroughly impressed with what responsible dog owners Lennox’s family are. I also developed an appreciation for his place in their family unit, as he serves as a therapy dog for the family’s 12 year old daughter.

Please help spread awareness of this horrific situation by signing the Save Lennox Petition to have him released, distribute this information as widely as possible and using social media to help bring this beautiful, innocent dog home. Although this fight is for Lennox’s life, there are countless other dogs in similar situations thanks to ignorance, misunderstanding, and ineffectual, faulty lawmaking. Whether you think it’s morally correct or not (and in my opinion it’s completely bogus – targeting the wrong end of the leash), the simple fact is that regardless of how you feel about certain types of dogs, Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) DOES NOT WORK. Dog bites in municipalities whose government have instituted BSL legislation have gone up across the board.”

Extract Courtesy Of Positively.com

Victoria previously stated on her Twitter account how the opposition had her personal Facebook page blocked for showing support for Lennox, nonetheless Victoria continued by tweeting that she would do all she can to offer uncensored information on her blog to support Lennox. More on Lennox and BSL by Victoria Stilwell here.

Other BSL & Lennox Related Links:
Intellidogs.com
Examiner.com SafePets UK