The clock is ticking for Lennox
Click here to read the Guardian version in full
The article is very short and to the point and looking back quite naive as the story has moved on so many times. Every time the phone goes or an email arrives another dimension or puzzle presents.
If you read the comments left - when I wrote this blog it was 600 plus - you will either get a headache or a heart attack.
My perception was that Guardian readers are usually lovely, sensitive folk. Intelligent, evolved, caring often vegetarian and anti-establishment. Perhaps their online client base is different to the lovely folk I used to see queueing for the fantastic Franco's Pizzas in Brixton every Saturday clutching their beloved Weekend Guardians.
Maybe people become much more extreme when they hide behind a user name, but I've never seen such a collective of dog haters in my life.
As the postings started to slow we had only a handful of users who wouldn't or couldn't stop coming back for another bite.
Oddly, I could more understand the people who were consistently anti-dog. But there was one poster however who seemed remarkably obsessed with all the details of the case and determined to highlight and list every negative she could find.
Believe me in the last two or three days I must have heard and seen every conspiracy theory there is with relation to Lennox and believe me it makes Watergate seem lightweight when it comes to complexity. But nothing has changed my support for Lennox getting one last chance to prove he is safe.
I know Pit Bulls are meant to have a reputation for fighting, but it's definitely humans who seem to have an addiction to conflict. I asked one of the main attackers of Lennox's owners why she wanted the dog dead and she claimed she didn't. But the hours she had spent cataloging their every real or imagined misdemeanour was quite chilling.
It was if she couldn't see that by attacking the case for saving Lennox she was putting the case for killing him.
I have come to the conclusion that this is a very complex story but when you cut through all the areas of dispute you come down to some pretty simple facts that have very little to do with Lennox's owners and lots to do with flawed breed specific legislation.
Lennox was taken away because of a tape measure - not because of his behaviour. If there hadn't been Breed Specific Legislation he'd never have been locked up for two years. If he'd been a cute shaggy dog he'd be still at home and not on death row. If a fluffy dog's licence had lapsed there'd probably have been a fine, not imprisonment.
Is Lennox dangerous? If so, was he like that before he ended up on death row?
No one had ever complained about him.
Expert witness Sarah Fisher didn't see a dangerous dog - read her statement on Victoria Stilwell's blog. Dr David Ryan's testimony was mainly positive, although he had some reservations as to where the dog should live in the future - and remember he was seeing Lennox without pain or stress relieving drugs.
One assessment - the prosecution witness - thought Lennox "was about to go off" whatever that means.
I'm sure normally the courts don't allow for speculation, just observation.
All three witnesses agreed that Lennox definitely didn't bite them.
But he's still been locked up for two years and allegedly even taunted with sticks to see if he's aggressive.
The judge chose to listen to the negatives and ignore the positives. And from my snapshot of the Guardian general public, if any of those guys leaving the nasty comments were wearing the wig they'd kill every big, strong dog 'just in case'.
The days are running out for a pardon or a point of law and the eyes of the world are watching with astonishment and intrigue.
Genuine offers are coming in from all over the world to take Lennox and give him a home away from this dreadful legislation. But unless the judge says he's not a danger, he dies.
As you've read in the Guardian, Jim Crosby wants to help establish whether Lennox really is a danger. Here's his excellent letter... no reply so far... why wouldn't they take him up on this offer? There really is nothing to lose.
Secretary of State, Northern IrelandIf you want to add your name to the petition to save Lennox here is the Link.
Rt. Hon. Owen Paterson, MP
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
20 June, 2012
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing to offer expert assistance in the case of the dog Lennox, currently at the center of controversy in Belfast. I may also be able to suggested a mediated remedy that would allow the Belfast City Council and the Government of Northern Ireland to extricate themselves without loss of public respect, yet with compassion for the individuals.
Please let me first introduce myself. My name is James Crosby. I am a retired Police Lieutenant, a former Animal Control Division Manager, a Certified Canine Behavior Consultant, and an internationally recognized expert on fatal dog attacks and dog aggression. I have consulted on fatalities and dangerous dog issues across the US, Canada, and even in India. I have trained Animal Control Officers and Law Enforcement agencies in the proper investigation of dog related fatalities. I have also, as a trainer, behavior consultant, Animal Control Director and investigator built extensive experience with the complex of breeds currently referred to as "Pit Bulls', those animals regulated under your Dangerous Dog Act. I have personally investigated 15 dog related fatalities against humans, and have conducted hands-on evaluations of thirty (30) dogs that have killed humans after said attacks.
I will not criticize the efforts to date in this case, nor the experts brought in. I will, however, suggest that an evaluation by an completely unrelated, expert party with such experience as I have beyond the experts previously available to the BCC could provide the BCC and the Office of the Secretary with the opportunity to be seen as reaching for an independent opinion, and a possible solution that would both protect the citizens of Northern Ireland and allow the dog Lennox to live out his life in peace.
I am not suggesting that Lennox be allowed to go home to the Barnes family: as both a Police Officer and an Animal Control Director I am a pragmatist and see that option is unworkable on two fronts. First, the Barnes family would be potentially subject to retribution or intimidation by strongly opinionated private parties, creating strain on them and the local Constabulary. There would be a potential for overt action against the dog. More importantly, the local Dog Wardens would be in a completely untenable position: were Lennox to act in a dangerous manner they would be accused of being unfair and biased, yet if unfounded accusations were filed against Lennox they would be accused of failing to protect the public safety.
My suggestion is to allow me access to evaluate Lennox and then provide an opinion. If, and that is not a foregone conclusion, I find that Lennox is not dangerous to the public safety, I understand that there may be options: first, that the BCC could retract their complaint, with conditions, to allow Lennox to be removed. Alternately, you might be able, as Secretary, to make an exceptional declaration that the dog could be allowed to leave Northern Ireland and the UK forever, to be placed permanently with an established and reputable sanctuary. Either alternate would remove Lennox from your jurisdiction. I would even take personal responsibility to escort Lennox from Northern Ireland to his place of sanctuary to insure that no one is exposed to any possible action by this dog. On the other hand, if Lennox is indeed found to be clearly dangerous and a public risk, I will say so clearly and elucidate that opinion with solid, behavioral observations. The BCC and your Office could then be seen to have sought independent opinion, reconsidered the previous position, protected the public from a safety risk, and yet been compassionate to this particular case. Lennox would then be destroyed, having had the greatest effort extended to be as fair and balanced as possible.
This would cost nothing to the BCC, Belfast, or Northern Ireland. Additionally, I have nothing to promote at the expense of the reputation of Northern Ireland or Belfast. There are sponsors that are willing to absorb my travel costs and lodging and the cost to transport Lennox. I would be acting pro-bono in this case. I believe that such a solution would help soften the current situation. The world-wide attention that this case has received, including this morning's piece in The Guardian, has grown far beyond rationality. Resolving this without criticism of past action would improve the public profile of the City of Belfast, and place you as Secretary in the position of having achieved a reasonable solution to this difficulty.
I am attaching a curriculum vitae to establish my credentials. I am also providing a link to a recent article in the US that explains a bit of what I have done and what I do, along with the current Guardian piece.
Thank you for your time and for your consideration in this matter.
James W. Crosby
Canine Behavior Consultant
Jacksonville, FL, USA