So, if you have read my “about” section (or know me in real life), you know that part of the reason I started this blog is because I really want to do my small part to raise awareness about “bully breeds” and hopefully dispel some of the negative perceptions that people have about them. (I know, you thought I started it because I’m such an amazing writer, right?) Well with all of the press about what recently happened to Lennox I figured why not throw my two cents in there?
Before I go any further there are about 815,746 places you can go to find information about the Lennox case and some of them have slightly conflicting versions of events so what I am sharing is my best guess at the facts based of what I feel are reliable sources that I have read. If you have heard something different please understand that I am not claiming to be all-knowing about the case, I easily could have just read a different source than you.
Ok, back to Lennox. So here is the super short version: Lennox was a well-trained family dog, a beloved best friend of a little girl, and he looked like a “pit bull”. The family lives in Belfast, Ireland which has strict BSL (breed specific legislation) but they had Lennox properly licensed as a city dog and he was labeled as an American Bulldog-Labrador mix. To his extreme misfortune, Lennox looked to dog warden like a “possible pit bull type” which is why they seized him from the family in 2010 even though Lennox had never shown an ounce of aggression. Over the past two years the family fought tooth and nail to get Lennox back. The case grew to be known internationally and many famed trainers, behaviorists, and pit bull advocates stepped up to voice their concerns, offer to take Lennox into their care, and some even went and personally evaluated Lennox’s behavior. Amongst these celebrities are: Tia Torres of Villalobos Rescue and the show Pit Bulls and Parolees (who I have the extreme pleasure of having not only met but I also got to volunteered for her for a whole week on-site), Victoria Stillwell, and Cesar Milan.
Ultimately the judge on the case followed the advice of the warden, who mind you had no training in behavior analysis, over the evaluations of multiple professionals. On Wednesday July 11, 2012 after a two year battle, reported isolation and starvation, and neglect at the hand of the authorities, Lennox was destroyed without his family even being allowed to hug or kiss him one last time. Many people believe that this occurred out of pride and the authorities not being willing to back down or admit that they made a mistake.
As Jim Crosby, a behavior analyst with extension experience says, physical appearance has no bearing on behavior and he has met Cocker Spaniels that are more dangerous than Lennox was. You can read more about Jim and the case in this insightful post: http://canineaggression.blogspot.com/2012/07/lennox-gloves-come-off.html
So, why am I even mentioning Lennox? Because if this case touches even one person and opens their eyes to how ridiculous BSL is, then it’s all worth it. I would implore all of you to do a little research on your own. Research more about Lennox. Research more about pit bulls. Research BSL. And if you are fortunate enough to own a pit bull or other “bully” breed, research the laws in your area. The scary truth is, this could happen to you.
I do not believe that there is such a thing as a bad breed. I do not believe that any dog is born bad. I do believe though that bad people exist. Yes, there are dogs that have hurt and even killed people. This is a fact, there is no denying that this happens. But when do we look at the other end of the leash? When do we stop and ask ourselves if the dog was trained or conditioned to behave that way? When do we start blaming the humans?
Please, take the time to educate yourself more on breeds and BSL. Form your own opinion. Better yet, go meet a pit bull and see for yourself. Teach yourself to view dogs as individuals, just like people, instead an entire breed or race.
And what about Lennox? If you have access to the internet (and I’m guessing you do since you’re reading this) I would venture to say that you have probably seen pictures of pit bulls with the words “I am Lennox” across them. While I understand the point people are trying to make, that this can happen to any beloved family pet, there is something even greater I think you can do. Go to a shelter and spend some time with a lonely dog. Give it the love and attention that it undoubtedly is craving. Help it not be so scared and confused. Tell him Lennox sent you.
Want to do even more? Contact me about how you can become a foster and bring that life into your own home and give it all the love it can handle. Teach it about unconditional love. Help it forget its bad past. It will probably be the most rewarding thing you have ever done.