The Legacy of Lennox

A pledge to dedicate ourselves anew to the fight to abolish the practice of BSL worldwide in loving memory of Lennox.

On 11 July 2012, the Belfast City Council published a statement saying that Lennox had been put to death, after keeping him in solitary confinement for two terrible years. For animal lovers worldwide, it was one of the darkest days in living memory, epitomizing everything that is wrong with the way our society treats dogs and the arbitrary, unscientific way in which the draconian Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is practiced and enforced.

Lennox’s case attracted a lot of attention, opinions, comments and calls to action from concerned people around the world. What touched and outraged so many people about the horrific treatment meted out to Lennox by the Belfast City Council (BCC) was how an innocent pet dog, without any history of aggression whatsoever, was snatched from his home and put on death row, based simply on how he measured up on a tape measure. Lennox’s tragic fate clearly showed up the glaring inadequacies in the practice of BSL.

Designed to separate and cull dangerous breeds of dogs that cannot be kept safely as pets in human society, BSL has failed completely in its very first objective—to identify and separate breeds of dogs that are intrinsically dangerous; because, as any dog behaviorist will tell you, there is no such thing as an intrinsically dangerous dog! An integral part of human society, dogs vary greatly in temperament, and their behavior typically depends on how they have been brought up and how well they are treated. It certainly has nothing to do with their looks or their measurements, which is what BSL judges them by.

In the twenty one years of its existence, in all the countries that it is in practice, there is no evidence of BSL being an effective way to handle human-animal conflict or make societies ‘safer’; it has had no curative effects whatsoever. Instead, it has had the most detrimental effects on society possible, it takes innocent pets away from loving families, tears families apart, and has a tremendously negative psychological and emotional impact. Isn’t BSL then one of the worst instances of thoughtless racism and discrimination? As many lawmakers (including the First Minister of Northern Ireland), dog behaviorists and experts have stated clearly and repeatedly in the Lennox case, the law is completely arbitrary and outdated and needs to be changed urgently.

But the fault is not with the law alone; the way in which BSL was practiced by the BCC in Lennox’s case, in a mindless, obdurate, non-negotiable manner, puts the focus on the role of city councils in our society as well. City councils are made up of elected representatives and are meant to protect and serve the citizenry and it is at the end of the day answerable to the people. Lennox’s family are all part of the city that the BCC works in and serves, and in no way did they deserve the appalling treatment that was handed out to them, with not even the courtesy of information about Lennox forthcoming, no last visit possible, no goodbyes. When a city council oversteps its limits and assumes an autocratic role, it ceases to fulfil its function as a civic body, by the people, for the people. The BCC’s wrongdoings in the Lennox case MUST be investigated, and its trespasses must be made punishable.

Lennox is not with us any longer, but over the last two years, as he was discriminated against and punished for no fault of his, his plight revealed the fundamental flaws in an archaic law, enforced heartlessly by humans who are unable to make the distinction between right and wrong. An awareness has now been created about the need to bring about a change in the way in which we treat man’s best friend.

The fight is not over. Today, it is time to pledge ourselves anew to bring justice to our beloved canine companions and to abolish the blatantly unjust practice of BSL from every corner of the earth. In this, Lennox is going to inspire us every step of the way. This is Lennox’s true legacy.

Today, we must all pledge in Lennox’s name to ensure that a situation like Lennox’s never happens again, that no dog is made to suffer and condemned to die like Lennox was. We must pledge to abolish the wrongful practice of BSL worldwide, and to bring wrongdoers like the officials at BCC who mishandled Lennox to justice.

We must also pledge to encourage and spread awareness about responsible dog ownership, where every pet dog is taken good care of, licensed and vaccinated according to the law, and handled in a manner that is safe both for the dog and for human society. This, and not BSL, is the solution for a happy, peaceable society where humans and canines live together in harmony as they are meant to.

These have been dark times for us, but we will not let Lennox’s death be in vain. We will be the voice of dogs seized under BSL everywhere, and we will campaign till this law is abolished worldwide. We owe it to Lennox.

To this end, the Lennox campaign website will remain online, and we will be more active than ever, our purpose now being to raise awareness levels about the unjust practice of BSL, and to build opinion against its use anywhere. The site will be a one-stop hub for all information regarding BSL and for dissolving myths associated with BSL. And we will not rest till we have justice for the way in which Lennox was mistreated by the BCC, and till the wrongdoers at the city council are brought to book.

This is our mission statement as we rededicate ourselves to the Lennox campaign today.

We miss you every day, Lennox you are in our hearts and minds forever