Lennox to die as N. Ireland court rules against dog.


Op-Ed: Lennox to die as N. Ireland court rules against dog

By Elizabeth Batt

Jun 12, 2012 – 33 mins ago in Politics

Belfast – In a shocking decision by senior judges in Northern Ireland, Lennox, a Labrador/American Bulldog has been ordered destroyed. The ruling upholds the decision of two lower courts, to euthanize a dog that has committed no harm.

For two long years, the Barnes family have fought to bring their dog home after he was seized by the City of Belfast in May 2010 and ordered destroyed for being a “pit-bull type” dog.

The ruling came in response to an appeal by the family, and upheld the decision of two lower courts who decided under the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA), that Lennox was a danger to the public and must be euthanized.

According to the DDA, a dog’s physical traits could bear influence on how it behaves and “pit-bull” types, like Lennox, are automatically deemed dangerous. In other words, Lennox was measured with a tape measure; he fit the profile, and was seized.

Yet Lennox has never threatened to harm a living soul, and even statements from celebrity and recognized canine experts attesting to the dog’s good-nature, have been consistently overthrown in favor of the testimony of one individual, Peter Tallack, a police dog handler and supporter of the DDA.

But when Tallack appeared in court said Joan Smith of the Huffington Post, the ‘breed identifier:’

Offered a quirky bit of testimony, […and…] flustered, offered the opinion that Lennox was “waiting to go off.”

As a result Smith added, Lord Justice Girvan deemed Lennox “a disaster waiting to happen.” Disregarding the dog’s history, he ruled against Lennox based on the canine’s potential for aggressiveness at some ‘point’ in the future.


Caroline Barnes and her family have owned Lennox since he was a pup. They are responsible owners who have cared for this dog diligently. Lennox, a beloved member of the family was also a therapy dog for a young, disabled Brook Barnes. Yet for the past two years, none of the family has seen Lennox, who it has been held it is said, under questionable conditions.

According to the BBC, Caroline Barnes’ “legal team went before the Court of Appeal seeking to compel the County Court judge who confirmed the destruction order to state a case on points of law.” But today, the Appeal Court judges dismissed that application. Lord Justice Girvan said:

The judge had heard evidence on the issues relating to this dog over a protracted two-day hearing, carefully considered the evidence and the issues and he reached conclusions of fact which have not been vitiated by any error of law on his part.

What about errors in common sense? The path this case has taken is disturbing; bolstered by dubious decisions, and a refusal to seek outside counsel, it has continued to defy belief and smacks of cronyism. Rightly so the Barnes family are devastated, having dedicated the last two years of their lives to saving the dog they love.

A brief Facebook post today, shared their pain:

Lennox’s family will release a statement in due course once they have had time to absorb today’s ruling by Chief Justice Girvan. The family kindly ask all supporters to remain calm and dignified as always in their response to today’s sad and very wrong decision by the Northern Ireland Chief Justice. Thank you.

One has to admire their class, for it is infinitely higher than that of decision makers who never having laid eyes on Lennox, have ordered him to die because of what he “might” do.

Lennox will be euthanized because of “what” he is, not “who” he is. And the ignorance and arrogance in that is astounding. Those involved in this despicable decision should hang their heads in shame and remember the words of Machiavelli:

It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.

N. Ireland should fear for the integrity of its legal system.