Op-Ed: Lennox to die as
N. Ireland court rules against dog
Jun 12, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.