Death row pit bull case to hear from ex-Met dog expert
A former Metropolitan Police dog handler is set to give evidence at an appeal case regarding the destruction of a woman’s pit bull dog.
Caroline Barnes (35), of Disraeli Court, Belfast, is appealing against an order for six-year-old Lennox to be destroyed.
The dog was seized by Belfast City Council dog wardens in May 2010 and has been impounded in kennels since.
Earlier this year a magistrate ordered that the dog should be destroyed.
Ms Barnes is challenging the verdict in a bid to keep her family pet alive and has attracted considerable support for her online campaign.
Lawyers for the city council opened their case yesterday in the appeal being heard at Belfast County Court.
While the defence will call on its own dog expert witness, Sarah Fisher, it’s understood the council has enlisted a specialist former Scotland Yard dog handler, who has testified in a number of |high-profile cases to back its claim that the animal poses a danger.
Steven Molloy QC told the court that whether Lennox is a pit bull or an American bulldog/Labrador cross, is no longer an issue.
He said it has been determined that the dog is indeed a banned breed pit bull, and the court must now decide if he poses a danger to the public.
It’s understood the court can spare Lennox if it is determined that he poses no threat to the public and his owners fulfil certain conditions.
Alexandra Lightfoot was one of three Belfast City Council dog wardens to give evidence yesterday and said Lennox was “one of the most aggressive dogs” she had dealt with in the course of her 25 years’ experience.
Ms Lightfoot told the court that it took six months before Lennox would allow her to put her hands anywhere near him and that he is currently on an anti-depressant called amitriptyline — an anxiety medication used for dogs and |cats.
Ms Lightfoot said Lennox’s mood has “mellowed” since she first met him in May 2010, but that he remains “a danger to the public and anyone around him.”
She added: “He’s probably the most unpredictable dog I’ve met in my career and I’ve dealt with thousands of dogs.”
The hearing has now been adjourned until next week when expert witnesses on both sides are due to be called.
Lennox was picked up by Belfast City Council dog wardens in May 2010. Officers called at Caroline Barnes’ home noted the dog to be acting aggressively. Experts took the dog to confirm if it was a pit bull. Under the Dangerous Dogs (NI) Order 1991, pit bull terrier-type dogs are banned. Earlier this year a judge ruled that Lennox was a danger and should be put down. Ms Barnes set up the website savelennox.co.uk which has attracted global attention.