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article imageOp-Ed: Barnes family says fight to save beloved Lennox may be over

By Elizabeth Batt     Jul 2, 2012 in Politics
Belfast - In a heartbreaking letter posted on Facebook, the Barnes family has said that in the best interest of their beloved dog Lennox, they do not wish to "prolong his suffering any longer by engaging in a battle that we simply cannot win."
The Labrador/American Bulldog was seized by the City of Belfast in May 2010 and ordered to be destroyed for being a "pit-bull type" dog. The Barnes family has bravely fought to have their beloved pet returned home to them for the past two years, but have nowhere left to turn. The family just posted this statement on Facebook:
"We apologise for the silence as we know our many friends and supporters around the world have been desperate for news but until we had further talks with our legal team we had nothing new to share. We needed to explore all possible options before we issued another statement as we did not wish to give those that have campaigned so tirelessly any false hope or for anything to be taken out of context as has happened in the past," the statement said.
Whilst there may well be errors in the Judge’s ruling from a point of law this has little bearing on whether we can or should progress by taking the case to a higher court. The ruling is based on the Judge’s decision that he deems Lennox to be unsafe despite evidence given by those qualified to assess and understand dog behaviour that contradicts the testimony of the Prosecution that was presented in court. This has given us little room for manoeuvre.
Our concern and priority has always been the welfare of our beloved boy. We have fought to have Len returned to our family from the moment he was seized but we have been advised that the legal fight is at an end. We are obviously distraught but have to consider the impact that any future lengthy legal battle would have on Len if we chose to go against the advice that we have been given. We cannot subject him to any more as there are no grounds for a further appeal and we do not wish to prolong his suffering any longer by engaging in a battle that we simply cannot win.
We have attempted to write this statement many, many times but have struggled to put in writing that the fight to spare Lennox’s life may well be over. It has been almost impossible for us to accept that we have to admit defeat. We always believed that there was some hope and that justice would prevail. We were wrong. There have been many dark days for us since Len was taken and we want you all to know that it is your support and kindness that kept us going through the blackest times.
This is all we can share with you at the moment and we are finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that there is nothing more that we can do from a legal point of view and that Lennox may well be killed. We have one last hope that Belfast City Council will allow Lennox to be rehomed in the USA. The offer is there but we have no say in whether this offer will be accepted. We have never refused to rehome Lennox. That decision was taken out of our hands from the moment Len took his final walk with us from our house to the Dog Wardens van.
If the offer is turned down we will fight for our right to say goodbye. We cannot bear the thought that Lennox will die without being reminded of the hearts and hands that love him.
Thank you.
Lennox had already received the support of several recognized canine behavioral specialists who testified that he wasn't dangerous. One of these was British dog trainer Victoria Stillwell, star of It's Me or the Dog. The canine, who was sentenced to be euthanized under the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA), recently garnered further support from the dog whisperer himself, Cesar Millan.
It's been a battle fought from around the world, started first by the Barnes family and then by many. All people believed that a seven-year-old dog who had never threatened harm, deserved the right to live, that he should be judged by who he is, not what he is. But the Barnes family, who gave their all to rescue the dog they love, were repeatedly beaten down by dubious decisions and a refusal of those handling the case to seek outside counsel.
Last month, a last ditch effort by the family was thwarted when a judge upheld the decision of two lower courts to euthanize their pet. The family's legal team had appeared before the Court of Appeal seeking to compel the County Court judge who confirmed the destruction order to state a case on points of law, but the application was dismissed. Now, they have nowhere left to turn, unless Belfast City Council will show clemency and allow Lennox to go to a new home in the US.
"There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts," said Mahatma Gandhi.
Let's hope Belfast City Council finds some.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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