Natasha Madison & Canine Justice Network Speak About Lennox
CJN Charity Ball 2012
With thanks to CJN & Natasha Madison
Natasha Madison & Canine Justice Network Speak About Lennox
CJN Charity Ball 2012
With thanks to CJN & Natasha Madison
Belfast City Council had publicly stated many weeks ago that they would post “some” of Lennox’s ashes home and today (Wednesday 22nd August) a courier delivered a plastic Russell’s Cellar’s off licence/liquor store bag back to the family. Inside the plastic bag was a partially torn package wrapped in brown packaging paper and within the paper was a cheap wooden box, no name plate, no blank name plate to have a name added at a later date.
Lennox’s family weren’t even allowed a say in the choice of box for his supposed ashes. Lennox’s family have repeatedly asked Belfast City Council directly and through legal means for confirmation that the ashes are actually Lennox’s ashes or at very least some of his but as per usual Belfast City Council remain silent on the matter as they do with the continuous requests for Lennox’s collar, muzzle and lead. Belfast City Council have stated that they no longer have Lennox’s other items, why? why don’t Belfast City Council have these items, where did they go? Legally Belfast City Council had no right to do anything with Lennox’s other items other than send them home to his family.
It seems suspicious that Belfast City Council wouldn’t allow the family to see Lennox one last time as they had promised in front of many people, it seems suspicious that Belfast City Council wouldn’t allow the family to see Lennox’s body after the council murdered him, it seems suspicious that Belfast City Council wouldn’t allow the family or someone else to pick up Lennox’s body and take him for cremation or to have a say in the process and it seems very suspicious that Lennox’s other items have now vanished from the possession of Belfast City Council, why? what state was Lennox’s body? What is Belfast City Council and their contracted kennel hiding? Who stole Lennox’s property? We won’t stop until these questions are answered and the items are returned.
Extract courtesy of The Lennox Campaign official website
Lennox’s Last Chance By Victoria Stilwell
As most close observers of Lennox’s case now know, the legal process which had been undertaken in an attempt to return the dog to the Barnes family (his owners) has run its course to no avail. I remain in close contact with the Barnes family and continue to be amazed by their resolve and courage while attempting to save their beloved boy’s life. It is important to understand that every possible legal avenue to release Lennox back to the family has been exhausted, and that result is no longer an option. Indeed, the latest news is that he is scheduled to be euthanized next week. My heart goes out to Craig, Caroline and Brooke for what they are enduring.
Over the past year, I have received many generous and kind-hearted offers from those wishing to help on Lennox’s behalf, and I have ensured that the Barnes family and Lennox’s legal team have been made aware of all of these.
Several months ago, I began working behind the scenes with Lennox’s legal team to begin the process of convincing the court system to allow Lennox to be rehomed in the US – a process which I personally am dedicated to overseeing and facilitating if it is allowed by the court. I have personally received the Barnes family’s approval to take Lennox, and while I can only imagine the heartache they would feel at seeing him go, they have said they would prefer him to have a happy life elsewhere rather than see it end next week. My longstanding private offer to absorb all of the cost and organize all of the travel arrangements to transport him at no expense to the Belfast City Council has been with those responsible for making the final decisions regarding Lennox for some time. Indeed, we are currently awaiting a response to the legal team’s request to the BCC to meet with me directly to discuss options. As of this morning, we have not had an official response from the BCC regarding this offer.
I’d like to be clear about something: while I detest Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) and laws such as the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act which are responsible for the incarceration and destruction of dogs like Lennox all over the world, I understand the difficult position municipalities are put in during situations like this. While I do believe that the BCC and court system have made significant errors in the handling and prosecution of Lennox’s case, I do not ever advocate overturning the rule of law and re-writing legislation on the fly as we see how it affects our personal daily lives. We cannot bend and reshape standing laws in our societies any time we don’t like the outcome they provide. Instead, we must refocus our efforts on changing inappropriate and dangerous laws completely from the top down, which is why I’ve been railing against the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act legislation for many years. Lennox’s impending euthanasia is but one of hundreds of examples of how this law unfairly prosecutes perfectly well-adjusted pets while failing to truly protect the public from dangerous dogs – the purported aim of the legislation in the first place. We must not allow Lennox’s and the Barnes family’s ordeal to be in vain – let’s all unite behind a concerted, positive effort to overturn the Dangerous Dogs Act in the UK and other laws just like it currently on the books in countless other parts of the world.
So to the Belfast court system and the BCC, I now publicly give you my word that if you remand custody of Lennox to me and allow me to take him to a safe place in the US, I will not disparage the BCC, the Belfast court system, or those involved with this case in any way moving forward. Indeed, I will publicly recognize the courage that it will take to rise above the divisive voices clamoring on both sides of this issue, follow the law, and yet also show some humanity and allow this dog to live out his final years in peace in the US. I recognize that although I wholeheartedly and passionately disagree with the repeated rulings that found him to be a dangerous dog, once he was found to be guilty, you have little choice but to enforce the law. All I’m asking is that you recognize the special nature of this case and allow him to leave the country – a result which still allows you to uphold the spirit of the law while avoiding the death of what I and many others consider to be an innocent dog and averting an even more damaging end to what has undoubtedly become a public relations nightmare.
I’m in Dublin tonight and will be in Belfast over the weekend and at the beginning of next week to visit with the Barnes family and explore any last-ditch efforts to save Lennox. I’ll post any updates here, and I also encourage you to visit Lennox’s official page.
Click the links below to read other articles from myself and others:
Courtesy Of Victoria Stilwell’s Positively.com
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.
On Wednesday June 20th 2012 Matthew Wright, host of hit Channel 5 chat and debate show, The Wright Stuff, spoke to guests Dr David Bull, Lowri Turner and chef Marco Pierre White about Lennox and Belfast City Council’s non compassion and lack of moral fiber. Video is not presently available to UK residents and can only be viewed by international viewers.
The Maria Daines Band supporting Hawkwind at Stamford Theatre sing ‘Lennox’
Many thanks to the Maria Daines Band and to all the band members of Hawkwind.
To Mark Lennox’s Second Year In Captivity At The Hands Of Belfast City Council The Save Lennox Campaign Asks Every Supporter To Take Part In A Special 72 Hour Twitter & Facebook Campaign Called ‘Each One, Reach One’ The Goal Is Each Lennox Supporter & Anti BSL Campaigner Reach One Other Person Who May Not Already Know About Lennox Or Breed Specific Legislation & Make That Person Aware Of Lennox’s Story & The Cruelty Of Breed Specific Legislation. To Make This Event Enjoyable For All The Save Lennox Campaign Ask You To Post A Picture Of Your Pets If Possible With Lennox Messages Of Support.
Twitter Hashtags: #SaveLennox #LennoxArmy #EndBSL
Twitter Follow: @SaveLennox
Facebook Like: facebook.com/TheLennoxCampaign
America’s largest news website the Huffington Post today published Lennox’s story. The article by columnist Joan Smith reads as follows:
Those 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
Statement On Lennox By Sarah Fisher
It has been brought to my attention that a small clip of my assessment of Lennox has been put on the internet. This clip has been taken completely out of context and whilst I have remained relatively quiet on this case since I spoke in court, I feel that I am now forced to make a statement to clarify what actually happened during the time I was with Lennox.
Wrongly or rightly many documents and details about this case have been passed onto different parties. I do not feel it is appropriate for me at this moment to discuss in detail everything that has been said to me, nor to put forward my own ideas regarding all the statements made, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion and beliefs. What I am qualified to do however is to discuss behaviour. My assessments, statements and videos of those assessments have been accepted in other court cases at Magistrates, County and Crown Courts here in the UK so the field of assessment in cases such as this is not unknown to me.
I do not care if I am to be criticized by members of the public or even other professional bodies as I have a wealth of experience handling and working with many breeds of dogs, large and small and I also work with horses with behavioural issues so do not need to defend the claims that I have little or no experience of working with powerful animals such as Pit Bull Types. I would however like to clarify that a Pit Bull Type is often a mix of dogs. Nothing extraordinary happens to the psyche of a dog when it conforms to certain measurements.
I do care however that Lennox is being portrayed in a poor light through this video clip as my experience of handling Lennox was thoroughly enjoyable and I now feel the need to explain in greater detail the truth, as I see it, about my assessment. I know that Victoria Stilwell has been what I would consider to be a sane voice amidst the madness that surrounds this case and she has seen full video footage of the assessments carried out by myself and David Ryan plus other documentation.
When the door to the van was first opened Lennox barked. He barked at me three times when I approached. As I said in my report this is not uncommon behaviour in any dog that is in a confined situation in a crate, kennel or in a car. He was also shaking like a leaf but this does not come over in the video that my assistant took of this assessment. He was clearly frightened as he could not have known what was going to happen to him and again this is not an uncommon behaviour in the dogs that come to me for help. No one has ever disputed that Lennox can be anxious around some strangers but I believe the key word some has sadly been overlooked.
I asked for someone that Lennox knew to take him out of the crate to keep his stress levels low. Entry and exit points can be a source of conflict for any dog. I was told I had to handle Lennox on my own for the entire assessment and that he had bitten the last person that came to see him. This is the clip that has been released. Had I had any concerns for my safety or those around me given that I was to be fully and wholly responsible for a dog that I do not know and that I had been told has bitten, I would not have continued with the assessment if I believed that dog to be a danger either to myself or those who were standing in the car park. Lennox gave me a lot of information about his temperament whilst in the crate. In court however, and therefore under oath, Ms Lightfoot the Dog Warden stated that in fact Lennox had not bitten anyone so I have to assume on the evidence placed before the court that the statement made to me at the start of my assessment was untrue. Given the publicity surrounding this case I am also confident that had Lennox actually bitten anyone whilst in the care of his family as has been suggested someone would have come forward by now.
I spent approx 15 minutes with Lennox prior to being taken from the crate, working with a clicker and some treats to see if, even in the environment that was causing him some anxiety, he could still learn and take direction from a stranger. He could. His eyes were soft and he was friendly. At this point I would also like to clarify the meaning of the word friendly. It does not mean confident. Was Lennox anxious? Yes. Hostile? No.
I believe that Lennox would have been totally at ease had I indeed taken him out myself but I also believe I have a duty of care to reduce stress where possible when handling any animal in a situation that is causing them distress. No doubt this statement will also be taken out of context by those who wish to discredit me and to discredit my belief that Lennox is not a danger to the public based on my experience with him and also based on the video assessment carried out by David Ryan which I have also seen.
I use food in an assessment to monitor the dogs stress levels and emotions at all times. It is not a bribe. A habitually aggressive dog will generally seek out conflict in my experience but even these dogs can often be rehabilitated. No amount of food can disguise this behaviour and giving food to a dog with aggression issues can be extremely dangerous. The dog may be lured to a person by the promise of food but once it has taken the food it may panic as the offering of the food has now brought that dog into close proximity with the threat i.e. a stranger. I have worked with dogs with aggression issues and whilst some may well take the food, the person delivering the food may not be able to move once the food has gone as the movement of the person, even the smallest movement of their arm, may trigger the dog to lunge and bite. I would not hand feed a dog that I deem to be aggressive. The delivery of the treat must come from the person that the dog knows and trusts – not the stranger. The dog can learn to approach a threat and then turn back to the person that the dog trusts for the reward if the approach to the person is appropriate. I use food throughout an assessment to monitor what is happening with the dog on an emotional and physical level not to make him my best friend.
Lennox was so gentle with the taking of the food both in the crate and also later in the car park. He was also appropriate in his behaviour with the games we played. He was also gentle when he jumped up at me to see if he was allowed the food that I was withholding in my hand. When he realised it wasn’t forthcoming he politely backed off. This would suggest to me that he has been around a family. Not chained up in a yard as has also been claimed by people who do not know the family or the dog.
Lennox showed excellent impulse control at all times and at no point did he grab me or my own clothing which many dogs do when getting excited by a game. I have worked with some truly challenging dogs and some will become increasingly aroused by lead ragging or games with toys and start seriously mouthing or biting the handlers arms or clothing. This can quickly flip over to more overt aggression and these dogs can be dangerous particularly if they are being handled by just one person. It is imperative that dogs with this behaviour are taught a more appropriate way of interacting with people and responding to the leash and also greater self control. There are many ways to help dogs that have been encouraged, through mishandling and misunderstanding, to behave in such a manner. Kicking and beating them is certainly not the answer.
Lennox does rag on the lead but it is very self controlled. He did not exhibit any of the behaviours that I have mentioned above. Regardless of what some uneducated people may wish to think, it is possible to glean a lot of information about a dog through games and food as many behaviour counsellors and trainers will confirm.
I wrote a fifteen page report on my experience with Lennox and my thoughts about the David Ryan assessment. In this report I state that I have concerns about the appearance of Lennox’s neck. In the video I explain this too. His ears are unlevel and there was a change in the lay of his coat over the Atlas in line with the nuchal ligament that is present between T1 and C2 vertebrae. Coat changes often occur in dogs, cats and horses that have suffered injury or those that are unwell. I have studied this over seventeen years of handling many animals. In all cases where I referred an animal back to a vet, whether it was in the care of a shelter, owned by my private clients or students that I teach changes to the soft tissue or skeleton were noted on further detailed investigation. When I see this around the neck in a dog I know that it is likely to give the dog cause for concern when someone unknown to that dog attempts to handle the collar or put on or take off a lead. Coat changes may well be present where deep bruising has also occurred. Pain and pain memory is a key factor in many behavioural problems.
Lennox was quite rightly put on Amitriptyline. I do not believe that the Council have failed in their duty to care for Lennox when it comes to the stress that he has been under and I understand that this drug is used to treat anxiety and depression. It was with interest, though, that I discovered that this drug is also used to treat chronic pain in dogs. Again this was mentioned in my written report. This may explain in part why my experience with Lennox seems to fly in the face of other evidence presented before the courts. He was not on Amitriptyline when he was assessed by David Ryan.
I would absolutely move on to touch an animal all over its body in any assessment that I do. I may or may not choose to muzzle a dog that is unknown to me to do this if I have concerns about the body language that I have seen prior to this part of my assessment. I elected not to stroke Lennox all over because of my concerns about his neck, the newly forming scabs that were present on his flanks and the blood that was present around the nail beds around his right hind foot. This decision was made based on the physical evidence before me not because I felt I would be in danger. I talked about this in court which was open to the public and at the end of my assessment which is also on film I explained this to a representative from the BCC Dog Warden team and asked if there was anything else that she would like me to do with Lennox. She said no.
I cannot comment on what happened when Lennox was seized or measured by Peter Tallack because I wasn’t there. I can explain behaviour though and any frightened animal can be intimidating. I have recently been in Romania working with traumatised horses and two stallions had not been mucked out for months as the staff (men) were too scared to go in with them. They called them ‘pitbulls’ such is the misguided impression of this type of dog. Hay had been simply thrown over the stable doors and their water buckets were hanging crushed against the stable wall. I went in with them, not because I have any desire to be a hero, but because I can read an animal well and within minutes they were quiet, standing at the end of their stables albeit it pressed up against the walls. I was calm with them and we took out all the filthy bedding and fetched new water buckets for them too. They didn’t attack anyone. They were simply terrified and they were not provoked. I spent time with one of them on my own, hand feeding him and was finally able to touch his face. This process probably took less than half an hour. I was totally absorbed in what I was doing and when I turned to walk out I realised that one of the Romanian men had been watching me. He raised his eyebrows, gave me the thumbs up and walked away. Other people could then go in with this magnificent horse too and hand feed him the fresh sweet grass that we had picked from the surrounding fields so it isn’t simply that I am quiet in my handling of animals nor possess some extraordinary skill that can make even the most savage lion behave like a lamb when in my company.
I can perhaps, help an animal that is struggling, gain trust in human beings as many people can. I can perhaps work with a difficult animal and make it look as though that animal is calm but all the time I am reading that animal. Every second of the way. I am looking at the eyes if it is safe to do so, I am watching the respiration, I am studying the movement, the set of the ears and the tail and so on and my opinions about an animal are based on many years of working in this way. One case that will always stand out in my mind was a large member of the Bull Breed family. I believe she was two years old. I won’t go into the details here but I will say that when I worked with her she appeared to be very good to the member of kennel staff that was watching. At the end of my assessment the member of staff asked me what I thought. I sadly had to say that I thought the dog should be put to sleep. The member of staff was horrified and I remember her saying ‘but she’s been so good with you’. But I had noticed some worrying signs. The shelter ignored my advice and rehomed the dog who savaged the new owner so badly the owner ended up in the ICU. Of course the dog was immediately destroyed.
I knew what I was walking into when I agreed to go and assess Lennox for the family. To have to defend Lennox outside of the court has, however, come as a surprise. I have made this statement to shed a little more light on what is a distressing case for all those involved, knowing full well that I will no doubt be subject to further scrutiny and criticism. So be it. I am not afraid. If nothing else this case has highlighted some important issues about the fears and prejudice concerning dogs, their breed types and their behaviour. Certainly it highlights the sad truth as Xenephon said so wisely in 400 BC. Where knowledge ends, violence begins.
The Save Lennox Campaign © 2011 Sarah Fisher
Day One Of Lennox Appeal Hearing – 16th September 2011
On the first day of the appeal hearing the court heard from three Belfast City Council dog wardens who were all involved in Lennox’s seizure. As the day progressed those within the court room listened and heard three different versions of events, three varying statements were given by the three wardens on the stand who all took an oath before giving their evidence.
The main focus of the day’s hearing was fixed on one particular dog warden who led the seizure of Lennox from his home in May 2010. On one occasion this warden was being pressed for an answer regarding an earlier video that the court had watched in which another member of Belfast City Council had quite clearly stated on the video that Lennox had “bitten someone who was here before” again pressed for an answer this warden was asked if Lennox had ever bitten anyone whilst in the care of Belfast City Council, the warden turned to the Barrister and finally answered “No.”
The Belfast City Council dog warden continued to be cross examined for a while but looking now quite anxious and irate giving her answers Judge Derek Rodgers finally called a halt to proceedings to allow for a short lunch break.
Again questions arise as to why these three dog wardens employed by Belfast City Council feel the need to give three variations of their statements and why one staff member was clearly seen and heard on a video played to the court room stating Lennox had bitten someone when all those involved knew this to be untrue.
The first day’s proceedings ended with only the Belfast City Council dog wardens taking to the stand. Judge Derek Rodgers asked for the court to resume the following Friday for a second day to enable all witnesses to take the stand.
Day Two Of Lennox Appeal Hearing – 23rd September 2011
The second day of Lennox’s appeal hearing heard from the remaining witnesses, Peter Tallack acting as expert witness for Belfast City Council, Sarah Fisher acting as Lennox’s expert witness and Ms Barnes, Lennox’s registered owner.
First to take the witness stand was Peter Tallack (Pictured) acting for Belfast City Council as breed identifier. Peter Tallack, an ex Metropolitan Police PC of 25 years who acted as a dog handler whilst serving as a PC until his retirement. Mr Tallack took the witness stand to be cross examined and as proceedings progressed Mr Tallack’s replies became more aggressive and agitated as he seemed extremely uncomfortable during which he continually fidgeted. In a bizarre outburst a flustered, blush faced Mr Tallack who was seemingly attempting to evade a question when being cross examined took from his pocket a handkerchief, wiped his face and brow several times, sipped from a glass of water before boasting to Judge Derek Rodgers “Your Honour I am sorry I cannot continue as people in the gallery are looking at me.” Before leaving the witness stand Mr Tallack implied that as Ms Barnes walks with a limp she should not own a dog of such size or strength, this comment was immediately halted by Ms Barnes Barrister who objected to Mr Tallack’s comment stating “You are not a medical professional and therefore you do not know my clients medical history.”
Next to take the witness stand was Sarah Fisher (Pictured) acting as Lennox’s behavioural expert. Sarah Fisher has many years experience working with all types of animals and is one of the UK’s leading professionals in animal behaviour. Sarah Fisher is also accredited as the UK’s highest qualified Equine and Companion Animal TTouch Instructor and runs the UK TTouch Centre that offers help in training, handling and rehabilitation of horses and companion animals. Sarah Fisher explained her findings to the court and also points of importance that had been raised in her assessment video that had been shown to the court on day one of the appeal. The court heard much expert evidence from Sarah Fisher regarding Lennox’s physical and mental condition and finished her cross examination by explaining that Lennox is a “friendly dog” who “does not pose a threat to the public” Before leaving the witness stand Judge Derek Rodgers took time to thank Sarah Fisher for her evidence.
Finally the court heard from Lennox’s owner. Ms Barnes took to the witness stand and when cross examined explained to the court and Judge Derek Rodgers how her Daughter and Lennox bonded from a very early age due to her Daughters ongoing health problems that stops her Daughter from playing outside like most normal children do each day, the court heard how Lennox has acted as a therapy dog for Ms Barnes Daughter. Ms Barnes continued by telling the court that since Lennox’s seizure by Belfast City Council that her ill Daughter has been distraught, lonely and not the same child and explained how Lennox’s absence has disrupted the entire Family’s everday life. Continuing to be cross examined by Belfast City Council’s Barrister Ms Barnes, who has other pets and also foster’s dogs, maintained that she would not have kept Lennox if he posed any danger. “Much as I love dogs and I have worked with dogs for over 20 years, my first priority is as a mother,” she told Belfast County Court.
Steven Molloy, Barrister for Belfast City Council, put it to Ms Barnes that Lennox deals poorly with stressful situations and strangers, “He’s waiting to go off,” he said. Ms Barnes replied: “No, he’s not waiting to go off. What you need to understand is that to Lennox a stressful situation is strangers forcing themselves physically on him.” Mr Molloy continued by claiming all the evidence pointed to the dog being dangerous and capable of attacking without notice but Ms Barnes insisted: “No, it’s not correct. All dogs have four legs, they all have teeth and they all have capabilities.”
Judge Derek Rodgers will give his decision on Lennox’s fate this Friday 30th September at Belfast Laganside Courts.