Ernest Dempsey — For one thing, these “Superpowers” are weird—excelling not only in some form of “superiority” or “power” (as they would like to call it) but even in attitude. To be biased, they would be “superbiased” and this holds for breedism as well. To be on par with the breedist hysteria against pit bulls in America, Britain is now showing signs of the same plague of breedism. In fact, the British version seems even more severe, “blind”, and intimidating—what we may call “superbreedism”. If this sounds too much, read on to learn about Lennox—a dog that has been in captivity for more than 600 days now in Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.
Lennox, an American Bulldog-Labrador cross, lived happily with his owner family—the Barnes—until the fateful day of May 19, 2010, when three Belfast City Council Dog wardens suddenly showed up along with the police. Asking the police to leave, the wardens socialized with the family a little (enjoying tea and smoking cigarettes) before turning to Lennox and measuring its body with dressmaker’s tape, and without any bit of involvement from a dog expert or professional. This “sophisticated” measurement at once led them to decide that Lennox was “likely” from the pit bull breed—which (maybe as a trend-following antic) is considered dangerous in the country and hence is a banned breed. Thus started the trial of the poor dog that never had any record of aggression, or even any proof of being a pit bull in the first place.
Lennox was “arrested” and taken away to be kept in captivity by the Belfast City Council which put him to official trial for a death sentence—the crime: “appearing to be like a pit bull”. This mockery of judgment was complemented by the council’s constant avoidance of attending calls or attempts of contact by the Barnes family. On the contrary, the family was contacted and threatened with dismissal from their job if they refused to surrender the dog to the authorities.
The law took about a year to decide on the case and, in March 2011, ordered Lennox to euthanasia via lethal injection because he “looked” dangerous. Caroline Barnes, the dog’s owner, appealed the court’s sentence. But the appeal was denied by a judge named Henry Rodgers on the basis—and it is worth reading with held breath—that Lennox was a “dog with teeth” that “might” bite someone. Hard as it is to believe, the available information does tell that this slaughter of judgment and reason happened in the court of a developed superpower. A super powerful court indeed if we consider the impact of its decision not only on the life of an innocent creature but on the very belief that courts are places where wise men make sane decisions.
The Barnes family again filed papers of appeal in October 2011 to ask the honorable court to review its decision of killing Lennox, pointing to the legal errors found in the case. In November last year, there were reports that the decision regarding the appeal was due on November 11, 2011. But the actual status of that appeal remains disputed; some sources claimed that the court rejected the appeal on January 13, 2012; but officially, there has been no statement from the authorities or the affected family relating the case. And in this fateful silence, only a caring soul can hear the cries of a loving dog that was ripped from its comfortable home and family and thrown into a prison for over 600 days, each moment of which is emotional torture and irrevocable injury.
Britain may be a superpower. But is it powerful enough to realize the gross abuse of law and judgment that is sprouting on its soil and taking toll on the life on its land? From what we know about Lennox, justice is in “intensive care” in Belfast courtrooms and those who can help are way too confused by “looks” of things to help salvage the spirit of law in its true from. Lennox is said to have a very short time to live as the court ruling on the appeal is expected to come out around January 26. Meanwhile, public campaign for Lennox’s release continues and appeals to international readers have been made to write to the City Council and other people in important positions as listed on the Save Lennox website. Maybe we still have time to save Lennox from a judgment that will end the trust, whatever remains of it, in Britain’s judicial system.
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Note: Readers can help Lennox by writing to media, officials, and animal rights organizations in Britain and in their own country as well as blogging about the above post. An online petition is also open to receiving signatures from anyone who wants Lennox safely returned to his owners.