You want to know what I am dreaming of? I am dreaming of a day when the human race gets over its God complex and starts treating the animals with whom we share this planet with the dignity and respect they deserve.
My hackles rise when I hear of animal abuse, and I am sick to the pit of my stomach when crimes against our fellow beings go unpunished; the offenders given at most a rap on the knuckles.
I don’t know if any of you have been following the plight of Lennox, the dog in Northern Ireland who was taken away from his family by Belfast City Council two years ago. Lennox was a dog with no history of bad behaviour, who lived peacefully with his family; a family who loved and cared for him. Lennox was the best friend and constant companion of the little girl, Brook Barnes.
So why was this model canine citizen apprehended and incarcerated? Because it would seem, thanks to the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991, Belfast City Council is allowed to capture and destroy any dog that looks dangerous. Yes, you heard me. Looks dangerous. Lennox had the gross misfortune to resemble what they perceived to be a ‘dangerous dog’.
Isn’t that racism? Being cast as guilty because of what you look like? Any dog has the potential to be dangerous – more often than not, because it has been trained to be so (by a human), abused (by a human), neglected (by a human) or abandoned (by a human). For that matter, any human has the potential to be dangerous. Should we enact a Dangerous Humans Act, so we can profile what facial features should be perceived as dangerous, and then destroy anyone fitting the description?
There’s more. Lennox was kept incarcerated for two years and denied contact with the family he loved. His family at first lobbied for him to be returned to them, and then, because they loved him so much, they lobbied for him to be given his freedom even if it meant sending him out of the country. Dog trainer Victoria Stillwell travelled to Ireland and offered to take Lennox back to the States with her, at her own expense, and assume responsibility for him. Belfast City Council didn’t give her the time of day.
Here is a leaked video of Lennox being assessed for aggression.
The woman in the video is Alexandra Lightfoot, dog warden for Belfast City Council, who gave testimony that Lennox was one of the most aggressive dogs she had encountered. She must have been quaking with fear as she sat there, relaxed, calmly petting him. The man conducting the assessment is David Ryan, who concluded that Lennox was not aggressive. His assessment was ignored by Belfast City Council. Here is a piece written by Victoria Stillwell about Lennox and the assessments.
This week, despite worldwide outrage, Belfast City Council murdered an innocent dog. They wouldn’t allow the family to visit their beloved Lennox to say goodbye, to hold him one last time, to let him know he was loved. They ignored the family’s pleas to have Lennox’s body returned to them, so they could lay him to rest. They wouldn’t even let thirteen-year-old Brook have his collar. Belfast City Council are guilty of gross animal cruelty and gross human cruelty. My heart bleeds for the Barnes family, and for the sweet dog they loved so much.
Rest in peace, sweet prince.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – Mahatma Gandhi
UPDATE: Belfast City Council didn’t even bother informing the family that Lennox had been euthanized. They found out about his death through Victoria Stillwell.