Death row dog Lennox has been given a stay of execution as a Belfast judge considers whether his owners can make a final appeal to spare his life.
North Belfast woman Caroline Barnes and her disabled daughter Brooke have now been separated from six-year-old Lennox for 532 days after he was condemned to death amid suspicion he is a banned pitbull-type dog and not an American bulldog cross as they insist.
They argue that the much-loved family pet has been subjected to a witch hunt and that he is only being put down because of the way he looks.
Lennox’s plight has attracted worldwide support from dog lovers since he was seized by dog wardens from Belfast City Council on May 19, 2010.
However, last month, Belfast County Court judge Henry Rodgers ordered that Lennox be put to death, because he is a banned pitbull-type dog that poses a danger to the public.
A spokeswoman for the Lord Chief Justice Office of Northern Ireland told the Belfast Telegraph that Ms Barnes’ legal team lodged papers on October 21, applying to the Court of Appeal.
The judge will have 21 days to make his decision, bringing the next vital date in this drawn-out legal battle to November 11.
A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: “A request has been made to the trial judge to state a case for the opinion of the Court of Appeal on a purported point of law.
“Lennox continues to be kennelled and cared for pending the outcome of the legal proceedings.”
There are now 119,318 signatories of the Save Lennox petition for the attention of the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
One online supporter from the USA posted: “Please do the right thing and send this baby home to his girl. They both need each other. Wisconsin is praying for you Lennox.”
Another Lennox supporter said: “Save Lennox, a dog who has never committed an offence in his life may be ruthlessly put to sleep for a stupid reason. Please spare his life and return him to his happy family home.”
One furious dog lover added: “Farce, get it over with and send him home.”
Another woman simply posted: “This wee man definitely deserves to be saved.”
Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, said the issue of dangerous dogs and protecting the public has been one that has posed a problem for legislators in the UK for many years.
“The implementation of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 has had a significant effect on the welfare of some dogs, which have either been kept in kennels for many years or euthanised simply because of their breed or type,” she said.
“Further improvements are needed and the Dogs Trust has called for an amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act to reflect the ‘deed not breed’ of a dog; to adequately deal with aggressive or dangerous dogs based on the actions of a dog rather than its breed.”
Caroline Barnes and her legal team were unavailable for comment.
Lennox was seized by Belfast City Council in May 2010 after he was noted to be acting aggressively and knocked a dog warden to the ground by hitting her in the face with his muzzled jaw.
Belfast County Court heard that Lennox has “gone for” two people and posed a danger to the public.
Under the Dangerous Dogs (NI) Order 1991, pitbull-type dogs are a banned breed.
On September 30, Judge Henry Rodgers ruled that Lennox must be destroyed.
Ms Barnes set up the website savelennox.co.uk which has attracted global interest and has now lodged an application for a final appeal to the courts.