Belfast City Council has confirmed that Lennox, the 7-year-old dog at the center of a major controversy, was put down on Wednesday.
Protests against the execution of Lennox, who the council deemed a banned pit bull but whose owners claimed otherwise, took place in the US as well as in Ireland and Britain.
Last minute efforts to save the dog failed after the Northern Ireland high court had ruled he was to be put down as a banned breed.
"Belfast City Council confirmed today that the dog Lennox, an illegal pit-bull terrier type, has been humanely put to sleep," a council spokesperson said.
"This was in accordance with the order of the County Court which was affirmed by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.
Host of the Animal Planet network show “It’s Me or the Dog”, Victoria Stilwell, had met with Lennox’s owners, the Barnes family, and had offered to find the condemned dog a new home in the United States. However, the Belfast City Council ruled out rehousing or relocating the dog.
Despite Caroline Barnes and her family’s efforts to save their dog, he was put down after a two-year legal battle.
Lennox was condemned to death by the Belfast City Council for having the appearance of a pit bull, a breed of dog that is illegal in Britain. Despite protests in Belfast, London, and the United States, the City Council destroyed the family dog which has been in captivity for two years.
Stillwell, the celebrity dog trainer, told the Belfast Telegraph before the execution, “I have received the Barnes family’s approval to take Lennox, and while I can only imagine the heartache they would feel at seeing him go, they have said they would prefer him to have a happy life elsewhere rather than see it end.
“My long-standing private offer to absorb all of the cost and organize all of the travel arrangements to transport him at no expense to the Belfast City Council has been with those responsible for making the final decisions regarding Lennox for some time.”
Similarly, First Minister Peter Robinson had offered his support for Lennox’s case. He said he spoke with the Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson and suggested that the Council “seriously look at a rehoming option”.
He added, “Why exercise the order if there’s an alternative?.. As a dog lover I am very unhappy with the outcome of this case.”
On Monday, No Kill New York, a US-based animal rights group, staged protests outside the British and Irish consulates in the city to plead for Lennox’s life.
The Belfast Telegraph reported that their office was inundated with emails and phone calls from around the world as campaigners continued to fight for the dog’s cause. Pleas came in from the US and UK as well as Australia, Sweden, Finland, and Belgium.
Last week, the Barnes family admitted that their legal options had been exhausted. In a statement they said, “It has been almost impossible for us to accept that we have to admit defeat. We always believed there was some hope and that justice would prevail. We were wrong.”
Belfast City Council officials ade it clear that they would not budge on the ruling. They also reported that they had received threats in the last couple of days.
A spokesperson told Ulster Television (UTV) that there had been a fresh wave of threats which had been referred to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
They continued, “It would be reckless and irresponsible in this particular case for the council to simply move the dog to some other place where it would pose the same danger to others.”
The council also acknowledged the "good will" on the part of those trying to save the dog but said their duty was to public safety.