If any of you haven’t seen the Save Lennox campaign, see the site here http://www.savelennox.co.uk/

Lennox is a crossbreed dog that lives in Northern Ireland and therefore fell victim to the DDA and was seized as “type” and dangerous by a dog warden.  His family are distraught and have a huge internet campaign which is rightly, still growing.  Sadly they recently lost their case and are working on an appeal, so comments will be limited.

Most dog lovers hate the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) and are opposed to Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).  Lennox was a family pet, muzzled when out as he was unsure of strangers petting him and yet he was seized.  Wouldn’t you rather be dealing with a responsible owner that didn’t want to risk their pet panicking because you wouldn’t listen when they said, “don’t touch him, he’s worried by strangers”?  I would.

Final update: Lennox was put to sleep on 11th July 2012. A sad end to a 2 year fight by his family.  Please remember there are many more like him in every county, awaiting their fate. Support YOUR local cases.  RIP Lennox

If you are looking for advice for your own dog, see our post about what to do if your dog has bitten or is threatened with seizure here

UPDATED with last loss of appeal 12th June 2012, see end of article

Updated 16th October 2011, go to end of post for latest

Update 30th September, result of appeal.   Sadly the news is that the judge has upheld the original decision and therefore Lennox is due to be put to sleep.   The family has about 2 weeks to find any sort of legal loophole or error in the case, otherwise this poor dog loses his life.

Update after appeal 16th September at foot of posting

I sincerely hope this responsible and loving family get their pet back.  I’d be happy to meet them in the park or street and I wish other dog owners showed even half the level of responsibility they do.

This case has prompted many Facebook, Twitter and other discussions.  What is worryingly apparent is the ignorance of the law and the complete lack of understanding of how these cases happen.  There have been many “tell the judge he can live with me, I live nowhere near people” comments, some deadly serious, some have written to newspapers saying the same, irate that the dog can’t simply go live elsewhere.  This can’t happen, ths is LAW.

The other common thing is the “why don’t they just do a DNA test, that says if he’s a Pitbull or not”.  That’s because there isn’t a DNA test to identify breeds, yet many people are repeating this and calling the council all sorts of names because they haven’t done it.  Add to this many comments about him not being a Pitbull as he has no papers, he doesn’t look like one, he’s the wrong colour etc and it adds up to thousands of ill informed dog owners.

I spoke to a lady from Manchester who is a staunch Lennox supporter.  She said she wanted to do more but couldn’t as she was so far away.  I told her she could campaign locally and support families in her city who have had dogs seized.  “Oh no” she said “we don’t have any of this here”.  Seriously, she thought Lennox was a rare case and was stunned when she followed up with the Police as I suggested.

The only legal way to ID a Pitbull is for it to happen through a court.  There is no other version.  If you have a dog you think is a Pitbull, putting a muzzle on it when out does not make it legal.  Only those dogs that have been added to the register by a court are legal Pitbulls and they are all neutered, tattoed, insured and muzzled in public.  A dog only has to look like it might be a Pitbull or Pitbull cross to be seized as “type” which is why so many Staffie and Mastiff crosses, however lovely fall foul of the law.  That’s another point.  A dog of “type” is seized regardless of behaviour.  It doesn’t have to be aggressive AND type, just type.

There are hundreds of dogs taken from owners every year because of the DDA.  Some are owned by morons who may well have a Pitbull cross but have deliberately trained it to be dangerous.  Some are like Lennox.  Family pets that have done nothing wrong and yet end up in a kennel, awaiting their fate with no contact with the people who love them.  The Lennox case is important because anyone with a large, stocky crossbreed could end up in the same position.  Your dog could be next, simply because someone rang the police and said you have a Pitbull.

Learn your lessons from this case.  Being taken for a Pitbull is only half the problem.  Lots of owners think the DDA is ONLY for Pitbulls.  Any dog can be taken away because it was dangerously out of control.  Dangerous is based on perception, so if your boisterous Lab tends to run up and bark at people, yes it could be seized too.

Support not just the Lennox case, but lobby your MP too and support organisations Like DDA Watch and Deed not Breed.  Otherwise you might be the next Lennox case.

If you own a dog you think is”type”, speak to the Police.  Having worked with and spoken to Police dealing with this, you may be surprised to learn that some forces have helped Pit Bull types to go through the court process and be added to the register and be legal.  assuming your dog is nice and you have trained it properly and you are a responsible owner, try it and see.  Don’t wait for the knock on the door.

So, can the police come and take your dog away if it looks like a Pitbull?  Yes, and you’ll have to prove it isn’t, or get legal help to get the dog added to the register through the courts.  It doesn’t matter what you bought it as, how nice it is or whether it is already neutered and insured.  Remember, it is illegal under the Dangerous Dogs Act to buy, sell, exchange or give away PitBulls and Pitbull crosses.  There is no defence.

If you are on Twitter, follow the case on @savelennox

My support and best wishes always to Lennox and his family.

Added on 3rd July 2011:

I can see a lot of people end up with this article through Googling phrases about Pit Bull ownership.  So I’d like to clarify the points.

  • If you  have a dog that looks like it could be a Pit Bull or a Pit Bull cross regardless of its behaviour or what you bought it as, it COULD be seized by the Police as “type”.
  • There is NO legal Pit Bull other than those who have been through the court system and added to the exemption register.
  • There is NO DNA test to identify a Pit Bull.
  • ANY dog can be seized regardless of breed, cross or age if it threatens or injures a person in a public place and/or constitutes a continuing danger to the public.
  • It is illegal to buy, sell, exchange or give away a Pit Bull or type.
  • Adding a muzzle, insuring or chipping a dog does NOT make it a legal Pit Bull.
Added 11th September 2011
the latest appeal for Lennox is on 16th September in Northern Ireland.  We wish Lennox and his family the best of luck.  Remember this could easily be any of you with a dog that vaguely resembles a Pit Bull type dog.
This article kindly checked by Dog Law, the leading solicitors dealing with the Dangerous Dogs Act, if you need help, contact them here
Update 16th September 2011
Today was Lennox’s appeal against his guilty as type conviction.  The court ran out of time so is reconvening on 23rd September to hear further evidence.  The stress of this on the family must be huge, support all you can, they are on Facebook too.
Update 16th October 2011
The Judge chose to believe the prosecution expert and upheld the ruling of the destruction order.  The current situation is that the family has entered paperwork on points of law and the judge will rule on 21st October if there is a case to answer.  If he says there is, then a new appeal hearing will be convened, if not then sadly this is likely to be the end of the process.
Update 12th June 2012
Sadly today the judge upheld the original decision in the last legal challenge for Lennox.  This means the order to destroy this dog will likely now happen.  Our thoughts are with the family of Lennox and every other dog and family UK wide caught up in this ridiculous law.
Read it on the BBC News website

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4 responses

  1. […] if you receive a letter from your landlord, get advice before rehoming your dog Most cases do have a history of a dog with problems, not neutered or a lack of proper training that was never addressed.  Don’t wait for an incident or blame other people when your dog is off lead running at people or animals with you stupidly shouting “don’t worry, he’s friendly”.  The person or animal may have previously been attacked, own an aggressive dog under control on a lead or simply not want your rude dog all over them.  Their dog may be afraid or have a medical issue as in the case of a dog I know with bad epilepsy, badly abused previously out for the first time and fitted after a stupid man with a Staffie allowed it to keep running up barking.  Despite the owner pleading with him, he sauntered on with the usual “he’s just playing” until the dog dropped in a terrible fit. Remember an offence is committed before the dog injures someone, if you need some advice then call us on 0208 1445799 or email us on training@safepets.co.uk see our main site http://www.safepets.co.uk Also read our post about Pit Bulls and the Law “When is a Pit Bull Not a Pit Bull” […]

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