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Family fight to save their pet seized by wardens

By Claire Weir

A Belfast woman is pleading for the return of her beloved family pet after it was seized by dog wardens.

Caroline Barnes said that five-year-old Lennox is a cross between an American bulldog and a Labrador crossed with a Staffordshire bull terrier.

However, staff from Belfast City Council called to her home and impounded him after he was deemed to be a banned American pit bull terrier-type.

Ms Barnes (34), a former veterinary nurse from Disraeli Close, says Lennox is neutered, micro-chipped, insured and DNA registered.

She has started an online petition to champion Lennox’s case which boasts almost 2,000 signatures.

“He has never had a complaint made against him,” she said.

“He lives behind secure fencing, he is walked on a lead and he was never allowed to roam.

“After the dog warden visited me to ask about my dog licence on May 10, she reported me as having a pit bull and on May 19 dog wardens arrived at my home and took him away.

“They telephoned us later the same day and said he must be destroyed for no other reason than his legs and muzzle are a certain amount of inches long.

“When I said I wouldn't sign him over to be destroyed when he has never done anything wrong, they said they would be prosecuting me and I could lose my job.

“My 11-year-old daughter Brooke is registered disabled and is distraught. She had an asthma attack when she heard her dog had been taken away and we are now in limbo, we have no idea where he is.

“The Dangerous Dogs Act needs changed — dogs are being taken because of the way they look. Lennox has done nothing wrong.”

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, who is also the family’s local councillor, has been championing Ms Barnes’ campaign for the return of Lennox.

The “appalled” DUP man called for a review of council policy.

“You see young men parading and flaunting dogs in people's faces — those are the people and the dogs that the public are concerned about, not a family pet in a family situation where all care necessary has been taken to make sure the dog was brought up in a responsible way,” he said. A spokesman for Belfast City Council said: “It is not the council's policy to comment upon individual cases that are or may be the subject of legal proceedings.”

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