A celebrity dog in Northern Ireland has been put down because he was a danger to the public, Belfast City Council said Wednesday, despite a massive international campaign on the Internet to save him.
Some 200,000 people signed a petition to save Lennox, whose owner waged a two-year legal battle to keep the pet alive, saying he was a bulldog-labrador cross despite the council’s assessment of him as an “illegal pit-bull type” dog.
An online campaign to save Lennox mushroomed to include a Facebook page “liked” by 110,000 people, a Twitter feed, @savelennox, with 13,000 followers, the petition, a website and a blog.
Members of animal rights group No Kill New York protested at the British consulate this week for Lennox’s release, while US celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell had offered to adopt him.
Northern Irish First Minister Peter Robinson even weighed in, tweeting two days ago: “Spoke to Lord Mayor about Lennox. Suggested BCC should seriously look at re-homing option. Why exercise the order if there’s an alternative?”
But the council said in a statement Wednesday that “the dog Lennox, an illegal pit-bull terrier type, has been humanely put to sleep… in accordance with the order of the County Court which was affirmed by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.”
It said it had considered other options but none proved feasible because “the council’s expert described the dog as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across”.
Council officials had endured “a sustained campaign of abuse” over the issue of the dog, including death threats, and had been in touch with police, the statement added.
Lennox was seized from his home in 2010 aged five, and owner Caroline Barnes has since fought a legal battle to have him returned.
Barnes’ family posted on the Save Lennox campaign website last week: “Our concern and priority has always been the welfare of our beloved boy.
“We have fought to have Len returned to our family from the moment he was seized but we have been advised that the legal fight is at an end.”
“My heart is shattered,” wrote one supporter on Lennox’s Facebook page after the dog was put down, while another commented: “Lennox was an innocent dog who was killed not because of his breed but by his looks.”
[Image of Lennox in his holding pen via the Save Lennox Facebook page]