Lennox, the face of tragedy
I have come to realize in the past weeks that the term "Coming Out" can mean many different things. For me, it has come in the form of admitting that some of the dogs I have brought into the DOC Puppies for Parole program have been on the forbidden list. Are these dogs unworthy or bad? No, they are breeds that are misunderstood or labeled "undesirable". They are also the dogs most in need of the rehabilitation received in any program designed to address behavior and training.
In the world of rescue I am considered a heretic. This comes partly because I refuse to ignore the fact that all dogs of certain breeds are good just as passionately as I refuse to label all dogs of certain breeds as bad. When I meet and evaluate dogs it is on an individual basis. I use the tools of comprehension of dog behavior I have learned over the years to the very best of my ability. Even my critics will give the devil her due; I am very good at judging a good dog from a bad dog. This is a skill I have honed over the years because I have had to see too many good dogs die, while resources and homes are wasted on bad dogs.
Some of the most amazing dogs do fall into the stereotyped public perception of undesirable simply because of the way they look. This is a deadly trap for dogs of all breeds that may carry the stigma of media hype, large muscled bodies or blocky heads. Because too many people in positions of decision making are uneducated on dog behavior, both learned and genetic, these wonderful companions are dying by the tens of thousands.
This week canine advocates from around the world suffered a devastating loss with the decision of the high court in Belfast Ireland, to uphold a decision from two years ago, to kill a dog because he had the misfortune to look like a Pit Bull. At the time of this writing there has still been no definite confirmation that the travesty has been carried out but I think we all know in our hearts Lennox is dead.
Lennox was confiscated from a loving home because of the way he looked. Under the Dangerous Dog act, any dog displaying characteristics of the dreaded Pit Bull or any bully type dog, are illegal and will be confiscated and destroyed.
This was a dog that never threatened anyone or had any history of threatening behavior. He was in all actuality a Lab/American Bulldog or English Bulldog mix of some sort but it did not matter. He looked a certain way and despite pleas from his family and rescuers from around the world, killing him was the only solution for the Irish courts. No compromise was ever considered beyond allowing this dog to languish for years in a government facility while the ignorance of the uneducated was heralded as fact. I can only hope the authors of the Dangerous Dog Act are sleeping comfortably because I am sure there is a place in hell for anyone that considers killing what they do not know preferable to educating themselves.
My prayers and condolences go out to the family that fought so valiantly for their beloved pet. I look at my own dogs and can only imagine it would be easier to have my heart torn out of my chest as to have to face the pain they must now feel.
I also send out my love to the fellow champions of the targeted breeds around the world. We may have lost a battle but the war is far from done.
Go with God dear Lennox!