Jingle Bells For Lennox

Jingle Bells For LennoxA new rendition of the traditional Christmas song ‘Jingle Bells’ has been released online today as part of an ongoing appeal to save the life of a family dog currently incarcerated by Belfast City Council Dog Control Department. Lennox, an American bulldog/Labrador crossbreed owned by Mrs Caroline Barnes, has been locked away since May 2010, accused by Belfast City Council, of being a banned pit bull ‘type’ dog under current Dangerous Dog Legislation.
Lennox’s family and supporters hope the song ‘Jingle Bells for Lennox’ will highlight their Christmas campaign and keep Lennox in hearts and minds through the holiday season and beyond.
The campaign includes an appeal for the public to remember abandoned and unwanted pets and to consider sending a gift to a rescue shelter for dogs and cats in need. Lennox’s family have appealed for his life to be spared and they hope for good news in the New Year.
UK musicians Maria Daines and Paul Killington recorded the Christmas single to support the campaign to Save Lennox. Daines, who has penned many songs for animal welfare issues said ‘It is high time dog law was made fair for responsible owners and innocent dogs. Breed Specific Legislation causes untold misery and suffering because it targets dogs that look a certain way. We would not tolerate prejudice against human beings and neither should we accept discrimination against companion pets because of the way they look.’
Currently over 120,000 people have signed a petition asking for Lennox to be freed. ‘Jingle Bells for Lennox’ will be available to download free of charge from the Save Lennox website from 1st December 2011. There will also be an option to donate a small amount to DDA Watch, a UK group campaigning for the end of breed specific legislation.

For more information & how you can help please visit the Save Lennox Christmas Campaign.

Statement On Lennox By Sarah Fisher

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

1 Million Lights On For Lennox

Many Lennox supporters and campaigners around the world have organised an event named ‘1 Million Lights On For Lennox’ The event has already seen many candle light vigils being held around the world in many countries and many cities to honour Lennox and call for his immediate release from cruel captivity.

Belfast City Council recently won the right to have Lennox murdered by lethal injection, euthanized is a term Belfast City Council would prefer to use but here we will not. Euthanize is a term reserved for ‘mercy killing’ usually carried out on animals who are suffering from an illness that causes that animal to suffer, the only illness Lennox is currently suffering is separation from his Family. Euthanize is not a term applicable to what Belfast City Council and their contracted Vet will be carrying out on Lennox, put simply, Belfast City Council and the Vet will inject Lennox and put frankly, murder an innocent Family pet.

Join the worldwide event, watch the YouTube supporter submitted video below and visit the event Facebook page here.

In Court – A Brief Review Of The Lennox Appeal Hearing

Day One Of Lennox Appeal Hearing – 16th September 2011

Laganside Courts - Belfast, Northern Ireland

Laganside Courts - Belfast, Northern Ireland

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

Picture Source OurDogs.co.uk

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.”

Picture Source TTouchTTeam.com

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.

An Act Of Perjury By Belfast City Council Dog Wardens

Dictionary Meaning For Perjury:
per·ju·ry Noun
perjuries plural

The offense of wilfully telling an untruth in a court after having taken an oath or affirmation. Lying in court or a given statement, whether in your own case or in someone else’s case in which you are a witness, is called perjury. In most cases perjury is an indictable offence and can result in a sentence of up to 7 years imprisonment.
Source:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisi/1979/1714

It isn’t often that people who stand up in court to give evidence, who swear on the bible to give the truth and nothing but the truth are or can be proven to be lying and actually committing a criminal offence known quite simply as perjury. Today in this article using court room statements and pictures taken of Lennox whilst in the so called care of Belfast City Council you will see fact based evidence that Belfast City Council dog wardens involved in the seizure of Lennox committed perjury in Lennox’s previous court hearing and how a Belfast City Council dog warden blatantly lied to the court and district Judge Ken Nixon. You will see pictures that prove what one particular dog warden said in court under oath does not tally with what the picture evidence shows and proves how the dog wardens involved in Lennox’s seizure gave false accounts of Lennox’s behaviour and continue to do so.

A Belfast City Council dog warden who headed the seizure of Lennox from his home particularly told the court under oath that she believes Lennox is aggressive and how she is afraid of him, how she cannot control him and how she is “frightened” for her own safety and refuses to get near Lennox or go into the same vicinity as him due to his aggression all whilst knowing that she was openly lying about Lennox’s behaviour, state of mind and her involvement with Lennox. Why have these Belfast City Council dog wardens told these lies? one can only assume that Belfast City Council do not want to lose another high profile case which is why their case has redirected from Lennox’s breed to now being about his behaviour. Another possible reason for dog wardens giving false evidence to the court may be due to the fact that they may be afraid of losing their jobs by giving accurate and truthful fact, either way it is very clear as many people around the world have pointed out previously that Belfast City Council will stop at nothing to secure a win in their case against Lennox’s registered owner and worst of all seal Lennox’s fate, ultimately his death.

The pictures below have been censored to hide the dog warden’s identity. Many people who attended the last court hearing will have heard this warden give evidence about seizing Lennox from his home and will already know that the warden in the below pictures is the same warden who stood in court, took oath and told the court how she was frightened of Lennox, found him aggressive, didn’t like to be around him or in the vicinity of him and could not handle him, as you can see below none of what this warden said under oath about Lennox’s mental state or behaviour is representative of the pictures. You will also notice in the pictures evidence that Lennox has been made to be very overweight, is this for the Judges benefit so that the Belfast City Council can portray a more menacing bigger dog? Obviously Belfast City Council are unaware that making a dog overweight is also a form of cruelty and just as evil as starving a dog.

Should this Belfast City Council dog warden be charged by the courts for giving false evidence? Should this dog warden be removed from her position within Belfast City Council? You decide after looking at the pictures below.

Lennox Licking Dog Warden, Note Dog Warden Laughing Whilst She Strokes Lennox’s Head.

Dog Warden Stroking Lennox’s Face Whilst Moving Her Face Close To His To Speak To Him, Note Lennox Resting His Paw On Her Knee.

Dog Warden Smiles While Lennox Sits And Gives His Paw To Dog Warden.

Dog Warden Scratches Lennox’s Head Whilst He Stands By Her Feet.

Lennox Clearly Seen To Be Overweight. Note Lennox Sitting With His Back To Dog Warden, Between Her Legs And Being Stroked On The Top Of His Head By Dog Warden.

Lennox Kissing Dog Warden

Lennox Being Taken From Belfast City Council Dog Warden Van

Lennox Clearly Overweight And Sitting Without Problem At The Dog Warden’s Feet

Lets not forget this dog warden shown in the pictures above gave evidence in court under oath stating that Lennox is aggressive, uncontrollable and she is afraid of him. The pictures raise the obvious questions, does this dog warden look at all afraid of Lennox? Does this dog warden look to be afraid of being in the same vicinity as Lennox? Does this dog warden look like she cannot control Lennox? Does Lennox show any signs of aggression toward this dog warden? Everyone can see that Lennox is willing to please and show love toward this warden and for this same warden to stand in court and claim under oath that she is afraid of Lennox is a disgrace to the dog warden service, the Belfast City Council for employing such an untrustworthy person and to the warden herself. The warden can clearly be seen in the picture placing her face up close to Lennox’s face which is not something a normal person would do if they claim they are afraid of a certain dog or claim it is aggressive and they cannot enter the same vicinity as such dog.

The camera never lies and here you have fact based evidence that this dog warden employed by Belfast City Council knowingly committed an act of perjury. If Northern Ireland has any type of justice then this is an act that should not go unpunished by the Northern Ireland courts legal system, furthermore Belfast City Council should immediately remove this warden from her duties unless of course they knew of her act of perjury and they to are willing to watch a little girl’s innocent pet dog be put to death for no reason at all. There’s nothing further to say about this as its very clear cut given the picture evidence and witness statement given to the court by this very dog warden. Many people following Lennox’s story will remember Belfast City Council’s statement after the last Lennox court hearing when a spokesperson from Belfast City Council told media sources “We are only doing our job” so a final word in response to that Council statement… When did perjury become part of a dog warden and Council employee’s job description?

UPDATE

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

The Daily Mirror Article – 13th September 2011

Is MTV Supporting Animal Cruelty?

In November 2011 MTV Europe will be holding their annual European Music Awards (EMA’s) in Belfast Northern Ireland in association with Belfast City Council. The EMA’s being hosted in Belfast is a superb achievement for any European city and the Save Lennox Campaign, the many hundreds of thousands of supporters and campaigners from around the globe warmly welcome Belfast’s achievement and congratulate all those involved in the winning bid however we all know of the inhumane treatment suffered by Lennox and many other animals at the hands of Belfast City Council and their dog wardens and for that reason we now find ourselves asking the obvious question, “Do MTV know that by associating and teaming up with Belfast City Council to host the EMA’s that MTV will be seen as openly supporting animal cruelty?”

As a global brand that mostly has an impeccable reputation who seem to stay clear of animal cruelty and who seem to support animal rights is MTV now taking a step back from what they normally preach all in the name of money? Its no secret that Belfast will pay a considerable amount of money for the honour of hosting MTV’s European Music Awards but is MTV willing to tarnish their own name by associating with Belfast City Council? No-one expects or for that matter wants MTV to revoke their decision to host the EMA’s in Belfast but surely MTV should remove their logo from forthcoming EMA TV advertisements, promotional posters, merchandise and such if alongside Belfast City Council’s logo or name or at the very least MTV should make a statement clearly announcing that they do not support any form of animal cruelty or inhumane suffering.