Earlier this year I produced a radio documentary about Irish pound dogs for my Masters in Journalism. During my time researching the stories included in the finished piece, I met two wonderful dogs whose potential parents would be listed among Ireland’s restricted dog breeds. Their names are Rosita/Reya and Valentine. Both of these dogs were taken from the South Dublin pound by a rescue charity called A Dog’s Life and are happy, healthy, loving pets.
If they lived across the border, I wonder would they now be facing a very different fate?
#SaveLennox has gone viral. Influential dog behaviour experts like Victoria Stilwell and Cesar Millan, well-known faces such as Sir Bruce Forsyth and everyday dog lovers and non dog lovers alike have begged, pleaded and petitioned for his release. They will converge in Belfast to protest for his release. Yet it appears he will STILL be destroyed, despite never causing harm to any human being. I use the word DESTROYED because this isn’t about putting a dog to sleep. I had my beloved beagle put to sleep on July 10th 2010 because he had prostate cancer that was untreatable and was slowly draining life from his body. That decision was the hardest one I have ever had to make. I got to be there, I got to say goodbye, but Lennox’s family appear to be being denied even that opportunity to let the animal know he is loved.
This ruling sets an incredibly dangerous precedent. It means that any dog that is believed to meet the criteria can be put to sleep, regardless of whether they have caused harm to a human or not. I may sound as though I’m being a bit extreme, but what next? Will they cull pups for being born to a bitch with the wrong measurements?
By law, if a dog bites anyone it should be reported and put to sleep. Yes, there are some dogs that are beyond help, just like there are some humans who are beyond help, but this dog isn’t. His owners have even offered to give him up to another family outside Northern Ireland so he can survive.
On the point of his owners, I think it’s important to point out that they’re not idiots. They had their dog licensed, microchipped, neutered and registered. They raised him with other family pets. He is a best friend to a 13-year-old girl. Why are RESPONSIBLE owners suffering because some idiots think it’s fantastic to treat certain dogs like weapons? Lennox is not a monster. He’s innocent and so are a lot of dogs who are just like him. Human ignorance and indecency are the real dangers here.
I have serious issues with people who refuse to acknowledge that some dogs are provoked into action. I watched a small child DRAG a puppy by the neck on a lead yesterday while her father looked on. If that dog nips that child for basically strangling it with a lead, it will be the dog that pays the price. The ignorance is astounding.
People assume that just because a dog makes a list of restricted breeds, it is going to attack them or their children. They pick up the child while the dog is still at the other end of the footpath, they scream “that Wolf shouldn’t be in a public park”, or they refer to the animal as “one of those DANGEROUS dogs”. ALL dogs have the potential to be dangerous, just like all humans do. Just because I have the potential to pick up a knife and stab someone doesn’t mean I’ll do it. In my experience, 9 out of 10 times, a dog won’t attack a human unless it’s been trained to do so/abused by humans/ neglected by humans/ approached by a moron who has no clue how to respect an animal. I say 9 times out of 10 because of course, there are exceptions.
The list of restricted breeds in the Republic of Ireland features the American Pit Bull Terrier; English Bull Terrier; Staffordshire Bull Terrier; Bull Mastiff; Doberman Pinscher; German Shepherd (Alsatian); Rhodesian Ridgeback; Rottweiler; Japanese Akita; Japanese Tosa and every dog of the type commonly known as a Ban Dog (or Bandog). They are all included on the list because they are believed to have the potential to cause the most harm should they bite.
Lennox is going to be destroyed because his physical measurements place him on the list of the UK’s “dangerous dogs”. As far as I’m aware he is due to be destroyed on Monday July 9th. My dog, Archer, will be dead two years on July 10th. I still remember having to sign that piece of paper and end his life. He may have been beyond help, it may have been the right thing to do, but it still haunts me. I will still cry on Tuesday when I remember sitting into the car with him in my arms one last time. Lennox’s family might not even get to say goodbye.
I can’t stay silent on this issue because I refuse to accept the fact that legislators will put a family and an innocent animal through that pain unnecessarily for the sake of an ill-conceived and ignorant law. These animals can’t speak so we need to raise our voices for them.
Lennox will not be Breed Specific Legislation’s first victim, nor will he be its last.