Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

How heartless officials had family pet Lennox condemned

Having watched the campaign to save Lennox the death-row terrier mushroom from a small Belfast Telegraph report to a global concern attracting celebrities and politicians, yesterday's awful outcome appalled me.

As a mother, daughter, dog owner and animal lover, I cannot see a single positive side to the heartless act of putting him down.

That his owner, Caroline Barnes, and her teenage daughter, Brooke, were callously denied an opportunity to see the condemned pet before he was exterminated must have been the final nail in the coffin for that poor family.

As any pet owner will agree, a dog is like a family member. The unconditional love they show and the happiness they create cannot be measured.

My two sons and I have three adorable dogs of our own. Each joined our family as tiny, helpless pups.

We cared for and nurtured them until they recognised the world around them and could live happily together as a small pack and as a loved part of our family.

Each grew to adulthood, developing distinct personalities, traits, preferences and dislikes.

We consider them family members and we would do anything to keep them safe, comfortable, happy and healthy.

Not a day goes by when we don't talk about them, laugh at them, play with them and cuddle them. Just as their lives revolve around us, ours revolve around them. To lose one would be truly devastating.

When Bailey, our first dog, was a few months old (a toddler in dog years) we first let him off the lead on a nearby beach, not quite knowing what would happen.

He was excitable and playful, but in no way dangerous and we were keen to see if he would return to us simply on command.

I chose a quiet evening when no one was around and waited until the coast was completely clear before slipping him off the lead.

Just then to my dismay, in the far distance, a man and a dog appeared and as soon as Bailey noticed this, he turned tail and ran, desperately excited and wanting to make new friends.

By the time I caught up, Bailey had been barking at the dog and its owner for a couple of minutes. The man threatened to call the council to have him taken away "because he was out of control".

All he had done was run and bark, like dogs naturally do, yet, because his own dog was timid, this man was threatening to have Bailey destroyed. That fear has been with me ever since - even though Bailey has never hurt a fly.

So to imagine one being taken away from us and condemned to death is a nightmare. Add to that the sheer injustice of it all - Lennox was simply impounded and put down because of his breed - and it must seem all the more cruel and senseless to that family.

Time and again, we see councils make decisions purely on the strength of red tape and with no concern for repercussions.

Have they never heard of discretion? Sympathy? Empathy? Humanity? No. That'd be more than their job's worth.

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