Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Pet Dog Lennox - court hearing due:

Innocent Dog Caught In Legal Nightmare:

There is a court hearing scheduled for Lennox at 10.30am on 16th September 2011 at the Langanside Courthouse, Belfast; this is the appeal against the death sentence (not conviction) which was ordered by Judge Nixon at the last court hearing in March 2011.
Lennox is a five year old crossbreed dog who was seized on 19th May 2010 from his family home in Belfast Northern Ireland. He remains held on ‘canine death row’, under sentence to be destroyed, whilst legal proceedings are on-going.

Lennox was taken under breed specific legislation (BSL) which has been in force in Northern Ireland since introduced in 1991 and amended in 2001. This is separate law (although similar) to that in England, Scotland & Wales.
Lennox had never put a paw wrong, he is held for his appearance - for looking like a prohibited type of dog. Read more here

Lennox was neutered, licensed (dog licence in NI) for the past 5 years of his life, micro-chipped, insured, DNA registered & pet safe registered. He currently awaits his fate held by Belfast City Council (the councils implement this law in NI); he has been separated from his family who have no access to him.
There has been new legislation recently passed and now fully approved in Northern Ireland which will amend, clarify & introduce new measures:

The Dogs (Amendment) Act Northern Ireland 2010 passed its final stage in the NI Assembly on 8th February. DARD have confirmed to us that it received Royal Assent on March 8th 2011 and that different sections will commence at different times.

Of relevance here is that Sections 5 and 9 relate to prohibited types of dogs clarifying discretion when sentencing & exemption on both conviction and non-conviction cases.
Previous to this, the NI legislation had been amended in 2001, but there seems to have been no cases of dogs being ordered 'exempted' as an alternative to destruction, this is thought to have been down to an 'anomaly' in the amendment, which gave discretion to the courts when sentencing but did not directly appear to link this discretion to the exemption process on conviction cases.

It is now clear and has been confirmed that the courts do have the power to order exemption of a dog as an alternative to destruction on conviction (when found guilty of being a prohibited type of dog-as in the case of Lennox).
The process of exemption would be carried out by the local council as opposed to a central registry-as it is in England, Scotland and Wales (the Index of Exempted Dogs now run by Defra).
Lennox is one of many dogs seized and held in NI, now that the legislation has been ‘clarified’ there is new hope that these dogs can be ordered exempted as opposed to a court destruction order, as is currently the case in the rest of the UK; allowing pets to live until a time when failed breed specific legislation can be completely repealed and replaced with laws which apply equally to all types of dogs and focus on the real problem - irresponsible people.

Lennox's family have been extremely brave and endured a lot of stress and anguish as they have battled on to save their dog's life with the full weight of criminal law thrown against them putting them in an seemingly impossible position. 

Lennox their pet which lets not forget, had lived happily and without incident for five years, licensed as all dogs are in NI and responsible owned, is kept confined in a concrete cell with just his memories of a life he once knew, whilst the legal wheels move painstakingly slowly.

All the time Lennox is unaware he has support from across the globe as it swells behind him & all eyes are following the case, with one common aim to release his chains, to let him live, to bring him home & plough the way for others to follow; the names you don't hear about, the other victims of outdated draconian law labelled, isolated & lined up for the killing.

The case of Lennox has yet again highlighted the real-life workings of breed specific law and the cruel way in which the law allows dogs to be taken from their family homes and put on a death trial with a tape measure.

Lennox isn't the only dog held in NI and across the rest of the UK, but he is a light in the dark for many, with no exemptions ordered since the law was amended in NI ten years ago how many pets have tragically lost their lives behind closed doors?

When we supported the case of 'Bruce' another pet dog also taken under the same piece of law the widespread confusion uncovered surrounding the NI Amendment and workings of the ban in NI was astounding see here.

In our opinion, a dog has to be the first dog to get through the exemption process, if one can win through, more can follow the same legal route and be spared from the death sentence.

Exemption isn't the solution for flawed law, but for those dogs caught up in a legal nightmare it gives them a chance to live, to be returned to their families, whilst the fight to repeal bad law continues.
Please sign the Lennox petition, there are currently over 67,000 signatures supporting the release of Lennox. Please share the petition with all your contacts, family and friends:

Please visit the Save Lennox campaign  –