Lennox was not a one-off case. Dogs are taken every day in the UK and USA because they “appear” to be a type of breed, regardless of temperament, training, or environment, and are deemed dangerous by the laws of that country/city/state based on that physical appearance.
They are then put into high-stress situations and assessed by “experts”, which often simply means measuring them to see if they meet the suggested breed-type guidelines. When behaviourists are involved, they are often using the old fashioned and outdated dominance/pack structure theories which can lead to wrongful conclusions when faced with a scared, stressed, and tired dog.
From my personal perspective, I wanted Lennox to be able to rejoin his family. Unfortunately, I never believed that would happen. Belfast CC followed the law only, and had no emotional investment or concern for the dog in their care through ignorance about dog behaviour and temperament, the effect of environment and health, and the true nature of what makes a “dangerous dog”.
Not only that, but Lennox suffered through over two years of kennelling, surrounded by strange people and strange dogs. Repeated exposure to stressful events and experiences changes the reaction and behaviour of dogs, especially when subtle calming signals and attempted avoidance is ignored. It would not surprise me to learn that Lennox had begun to exhibit some of the extreme reactions (growling, snarling, defensive barking, or even biting) that would typically receive an “aggressive” or “dangerous” label. But it is important to note that (if this is the case), Belfast CC forced Lennox into a situation where he felt those were his only options. Before he was taken into their care, he would not have reacted that way.
My dogs would not have coped with that situation. Each of my four dogs are sociable, well trained, affectionate, and often spend time in the company of thousands of other dogs and people at dog shows or other public events. My two older dogs (11 & 13yrs) would not physically have survived living in kennels for two years, let alone mentally. I fully believe my two younger dogs (6yrs & 10mths) would have ended up displaying ‘aggressive’ behaviours if they had been forcibly removed from my home and put into kennels for two years.
The only way we can save future dogs like Lennox is by educating ourselves and other people about dog behaviour, breeding, and training.
Two years ago, in May 2012, Lennox was seized from his family home based on his appearance by Belfast City Council Dog Wardens. Lennox is an adult American Bull dog Labrador cross, who has never had any behavioural problems, has an excellent temperament, and has grown up around children. He is a much loved family pet, but because he meets the measurements of a “pit bull type”, he is deemed unsafe.
His family have battled to try and save him, taking as much legal action as possible to prevent his destruction. On July 2nd 2012, they have acknowledged there is nothing left to try through the courts. Lennox has been living in council kennels for two years and the family can no longer bear to leave him in this situation.
There is a very slim hope that Lennox may be able to rehomed in the USA, but if not, Lennox’s family will have to battle to be allowed to say goodbye to their dog before he is euthanised.