After a request by The Save Lennox Campaign before Christmas 2010 asking supporters to write and submit their own blog to be published here at The Save Lennox Campaign Blog we had a massive response with over 50 submissions by Lennox followers, campaigners, and many of your submitted blogs were amazingly written, many brought tears, laughter and were written from the heart but the piece below by Mick Clark sums up many things, not just about Lennox but BSL and many victims who have suffered due to this legislation, it was for that reason we chose Mick’s blog to be published here and would like to thank Mick for submitting his blog for use here. Well done Mick, brilliant well written blog. The Save Lennox Campaign Blog will also publish a few more of the campaigner submitted blogs here over the next few weeks before Lennox’s court hearing in March, in the meantime please read and reply to Mick’s blog below. Thank you everyone for your hard work.
Submitted blog courtesy of Mick Clark.
From the outside the story of Lennox is a touching and tragic tale. Here we see by all accounts a fine family dog, with his history, DNA, papers all intact taken away from his home in preparation to be destroyed for the simple fact that he looks a bit like something that the authorities proclaim to be a danger and menace to our society.
This story apart from the human and canine tragic angles suggests to me something a little more insidious and worrying. Something that takes us way back to a world we all hoped had been put to bed long ago. Many years ago from before the turn of the last century psychologists and behaviourists tried to define what made a person who they were and how they were likely to behave. Breeding and social class were considered important but also the physiology of a person was deemed an important factor by a process known as phrenology.
Phrenology was the study of the shape of the human head and how a certain shape of head or certain features could indicate the likely character of a person. Phrenology before it was discredited had been used to ascertain the potential criminality of a person. It was believed that the actual shape of a persons head or face was a strong indicator of their likelihood to commit crime.
More disturbingly the Nazis used phrenology to categorise racial types and how they should be dealt with, history tells us the Jews and the Slav’s were the ones who suffered mostly, there were many categories under the doctrine and woe betide anyone who fell into one of the negative categories.
The tragic irony is that the leading Nazis were far from the Aryan super men they believed themselves to be. Josef Goebbels the propaganda minister had a club foot and many of the Nazis were addicted to drugs or other dubious practices. History showed us what the Nazis were.
Fortunately phrenology has been consigned to the waste bin of history as another theory that really has no grounds at all. I for one am very grateful phrenology is discredited as I have the beetling brow of a brutish type, I am a large person, tipping the scales at 17 stone. I have a thick neck and the back of my head is slightly protruding. To the onlooker I look like a thug and if a phrenologist felt the bumps on my head (most produced on the rugby field) they would no doubt suggest I was potentially aggressive and not to be trusted.
But I am not any of those things; I just look as if I am. In reality I work in electronic engineering, I am kind to animals and love my dear old mum. I have even been known to help an old lady across the road now and again and of course I like dogs.
So what does this have to do with a dog in doggy prison waiting to be sentenced for the way he looks and the dimensions of his body?
Again we have stereotyped a certain look with certain behaviour. More worryingly how many Lennox’s have gone before and can never be recovered? How many dogs have been destroyed that did not make the news? To arbitrarily decide that a certain look is suggestive of a certain type of behaviour without factoring in any other criteria is as absurd as the discredited phrenology theory.
The vast majority of dogs in the UK go about their daily business of sleeping, slobbering, wagging, barking, chewing, running and all the myriad of other activities with no negative impact upon the world around them.
Every time a dog bites someone or attacks someone the press headline it in the most strident way. In the 1980’s Rottwieler’s were tagged as ‘Devil Dogs’ after the film The Omen. Now American Pit bull’s and pit bull types are demonised. Staffordshire bull terriers are also receiving bad press as surprise, surprise they look a wee bit like the dreaded pit bull and of course some dogs are tagged as a macho accessory in a ‘Gangsta stylee’.
We all know dogs have and will continue in extremely rare events attack people. Some will do it completely out of character for no apparent reason and these dogs will ultimately pay the price. Some Dogs will do this as they may have been trained to do so. Some will attack people because of the situation where the dogs reside.
It can be said with some confidence that these attacks will not be carried out by only one type of dog, but the attacks will be across the board and carried out by a number of different breeds and crosses.
Statistically there is no one type of dog that is responsible for attacks on people that stands head and shoulders above the other types of dog.
If the family poodle bites someone it is a much less newsworthy item than a Staffordshire or Akita attacking someone.
The dangerous dogs’ act 1991 was passed after sensationalist headlines in the press and no doubt the incumbent Tory government with one eye on the forthcoming election in 1992 felt a need to act and to be seen to be doing something. Again a hastily cobbled together act has now sat on the statute books for nearly twenty years. It would no doubt make interesting reading to see if there has been any reduction in the number of dog attacks on people in the intervening twenty years. If there has not then the legislation simply does not work.
Again BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) harks back to the ‘good old days’ of phrenology and racial stereotyping, ‘Good old days’ I for one do not wish to see ever again.
The onus for responsibility should fall upon the shoulders of the dog owner, to make them responsible for ensuring their dog is trained correctly and is under good supervision as required. Not arbitrarily decided which dogs can be trusted and which cannot.
In my opinion and this is only my opinion all dogs should be licensed and the licence can be carried on the collar like a tax disk, this should be a paid for item and the funds raised can be used for dog welfare projects and education of owners. I would be happy to pay £50 a year to licence my dogs to ensure enforceable legislation and registration exists. Dog owners could even nominate their favourite dog charity to receive a portion of the licence fee, this would greatly help the registered dog charities.
As we all know irresponsible dog owners will not licence their dogs. The burden of commitment as always will fall upon the shoulders of those who abide by the law and contribute to the society around them.
However; a dog licence will give those in law an enforceable law which is based in logic. If you have a dog licence your dog is registered and you are deemed a responsible dog owner. If you do not then there will be legislation to ensure the authorities have some point where they can act against you. Hopefully this will be before your dog does some damage. If the dog does indeed cause some problem you can be held responsible because you did not fill the criteria for responsible dog owner ship as laid down in law. Obviously responsible dog owners will accept liability for anything their dogs might do as they have always done.
The dangerous dogs act 1991 and BSL do none of this. BSL is too subjective and is open to loopholes, abuses and personal interpretation. This is not what law is meant to be about; law should be a clearly defined set of criteria that are enforceable.
Will Lennox make it back to his family? Or will he become another victim of BSL. I hope fervently he will be returned to those who love him and continue to be a member of that family until his natural time has come.
Lennox is only a small part of the case against BSL but if he can be the focus and the reason that people are galvanised into acting on his and the behalf of a multitude of other dogs victimised by a law as subjective as to be almost unenforceable; then he will have made a massive contribution. Maybe one day there will be a ‘Lennox’s law’ designed to ensure all dogs get fair and even treatment.
I believe we must set the argument against BSL in the bedrock of logic, law and fact. By doing so we should be able to prove the case against it.
This is a very emotive issue and it would be too easy to be caught up in the emotional aspect of this case but if we are too emotive we will be dismissed as hysterical animal lovers who put animals before people.
Weight of numbers is required to ensure this ludicrous legislation is consigned to the scrap heap and replaced by something that ensures a degree of fairness. The more protest the government receives the more notice they will take, this I would say should take the form of petitions and lobbying.
With over eight million dog owners in the UK representing at least that number of their friends and companions there is a huge potential lobby. Any government will take notice of such a group.
Perhaps the principle of the ‘big society’ can be embraced to ensure dog legislation is put into the hands of those who will be acting in the interests of people and dogs to ensure we can all live equably and as safely as is practicable in a world where nothing is ever certain.
By Mick Clark