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July 13, 2012

And the Bark Goes On…..

This is a sad week for animal lovers, worldwide. Lennox, a 7 year old bulldog lab mix, was killed in Belfast Ireland. His tragic story has been haunting and calling to action all those who fight against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).

On the 19th May 2010, Lennox, a five year old American Bull dog/ Labrador cross was wrongfully seized by Belfast City Council Dog Wardens. He was taken from his loving family home where he lived with his owners and his kennel mates. Lennox committed no crime; no one complained about him. Three Belfast City Council Dog Wardens went with the Police to his home unannounced. The Dog Wardens told the Police to leave because there was no need for them. The Wardens then sat down and had tea with Lennox’s owners, smoked cigarettes, chatted, and played with the other family dogs. They then decided to measure Lennox’s muzzle and rear legs using a dress maker’s tape measure. Based on those measurements, without seeking any professional advice, they declared that Lennox was possibly a “Pit Bull Type Breed”. He was then led from his home to be put to death by the Council.

Lennox’s family did more than is required by law as responsible dog owners. The family fosters dogs for various Northern Ireland dog shelters. When Lennox was a puppy his owners had him neutered, licensed, insured, DNA registered, Pet Safe registered and micro chipped. Although the Belfast City Council issued a dog licence for Lennox every year of his life and continued to do so through his incarceration, the Council found the need to class him as a ‘Pit Bull type dog’ and murder him. On the day Lennox was ripped from his family home, the Belfast City Council issued his owner a warrant of seizure which was incorrectly addressed; it was for another location. Furthermore the Council used the ADBA Inc (American Dog Breeders Association Incorporated) ‘breed standards guide’ to help identify Lennox as possible Pit Bull type. It has now become clear that the Council used this ADBA breed standards guide illegally, breaking international and Berne copyright laws. Belfast City Council has never been authorized by the ADBA to use the copyrighted breed standards guide in full or derived version. Since Lennox’s seizure the ADBA issued the Belfast City Council with ‘Cease & Desist’ orders due to the Council’s unauthorised use of ADBA material.

Lennox’s owners were only contacted once by the Belfast City Council and this was two hours after Lennox had been taken. One of the Dog Wardens who seized Lennox telephoned Lennox’s owner to say “If you do not sign him over to us to be destroyed, you will most certainly lose your job. We will force prosecution upon you through the courts.” On many attempts the family telephoned the Council’s Dog Control Manager but the Manager never took the family’s calls or returned calls. Lennox’s family was never told where he was kept, what condition he was in, what type of care, feeding or regular exercise he received, if any. Lennox’s family repeatedly requested visitation, but the Dog Control Manager for Belfast City Council Dog Wardens Department continually refused all requests. Photographs of Lennox emerged in Spring, 2012 and were passed to the family. The photos showed Lennox in a concrete kennel, visibly too small. Lennox was sitting upright in a box-type bed surrounded by his own feces with only sawdust for bedding. Many dog experts say this sawdust can be harmful to dogs. The Dog Wardens Department stated they practice humane animal welfare as set out by the DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development). After studying the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it was clear that none of Lennox’s welfare needs were met at this undisclosed, kennel.

A global campaign with hundreds of thousands of supporters convened, signing petitions and doing everything possible to support Lennox’s release. The ADBA Inc, various Animal Rights groups, Animal Welfare organizations, veterinarians, dog breed and behaviorist experts gave their support for Lennox’s freedom. The most heartfelt plea of all was heard from Brooke, the owner’s eleven year old daughter who is disabled. Lennox grew up with Brooke and the two became inseparable. Due to Brooke’s illness she is unable to play each day with other children; Lennox was always there as a playmate and a comfort to her. Since her best friend was taken, Brooke has often missed school due to declining health and stress. As time went on, Brooke’s Doctor at Belfast Royal Hospital for Sick Children expressed concern for the child’s separation from her pet.
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BSL is a deep pool. The overpopulation of dogs worldwide certainly contributes. Pitbulls, voted America’s favorite dog breed in the 1960’s, have been overbred and horrifically used as fight and bait dogs in both major cities and rural towns. In short, it is not the BREED that is bad tempered, it is the owner who trains and creates problem dogs.

Throughout the nightmare with Lennox, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide actively fought for his cause and learned about BSL, dog overpopulation, and what is being done to reduce the problem. As the 2 years went on, the Lennox story got darker and less likely to have a good outcome. People inherently reacted, planning to help shelter animals, contribute to a cause, create a group effort, spread the word. Lennox was truly an Angel and the fight against BSL in his name will continue to grow stronger due to his story.

Most Common Dog Park Related Conditions Identified
(this is not a sales pitch for daycare… although…)
Warmer weather often means more trips to the vet due to dog park-related illness and injury. With summer and the warm weather, pet owners are more likely to frequent dog parks where their four-legged friends can play and socialize with their peers. In fact, more pet owners may be utilizing dog parks than ever before. With a 34 percent increase during the past five years, dog parks are the fastest-growing segment of city parks in the U.S., according to a study conducted by the nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land.

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) recently sorted its database of more than 420,000 dogs to determine common dog park-related medical conditions in 2011. See the results below.

1. Sprains and soft tissue injuries
2. Lacerations and bite wounds
3. Kennel cough or upper respiratory infection
4. Insect bites
5. Head trauma
6. Hyperthermia or heat stroke
7. Parasite infection
8. Parvovirus

Each of these conditions can make for a costly trip to the dog park. The most expensive medical condition on the list, hyperthermia or heat stroke, costs an average of $584 per pet, while insect bites, the least expensive condition, cost an average of $141 per pet.

The most common condition on the list, sprains and soft tissue injuries, cost an average of $213 per pet. Veterinarians should think about what they can do to encourage clients to help their dogs avoid these common medical issues, the company states.

“Pets are treated by veterinarians more frequently during the summer months due to their increased exposure to the outdoors,” says Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “The majority of medical conditions that occur at a dog park can be avoided by taking necessary precautions, most notably by keeping a close eye on your dog at all times.”

Dog parks have their rules just like any other community, so VPI advises that veterinarians remind their clients of these tips to keep their clients’ visits fun and safe:

Obey all the posted rules and regulations at the park.
Pay attention to the dog at all times. Be aware of the other pets too.
Don’t bring a puppy younger than 4 months old to the park.
Make sure the dog is up to date on all of its vaccinations and has a valid pet license.
Keep a collar on the dog.
On very warm days, avoid the park during peak temperature hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Look for signs of overheating, including profuse and rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick drooling saliva and lack of coordination. If this occurs, bring the dog in to be examined by a veterinarian immediately.
(ed. op: and of course, come to daycare more!!)

A Casual Note from Our Rover Reporter
Life is good, sunny and warm, in the ocean and the river everyday. I haven’t thought about work one bit, if my parents mention it, I leave the room. You should get to the beach this summer. It’s good for you.

Ernie and Cousin Lucy

Later, Ernestine

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