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Lennox, dog condemned as pitbull, is put to death in Belfast

PA wire via AP, file

Lennox, deemed an illegal pitbull terrier type dog in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A pug-nosed Belfast dog named Lennox, who inspired a two-year legal fight and animal-rights protests on both sides of the Atlantic, has been put down, the Belfast City Council confirmed Wednesday.

A two-year international battle to save pug-nosed Lennox, whose resemblance to a pitbull brought it a death warrant from the City Council in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ended Wednesday with the announcement that city officials killed the 7-year-old dog.

The City Council declared Lennox had a severe personality disorder, but his owners, the Barnes family, said he was a well-handled American bulldog-Labrador cross. After measuring his legs and snout, dog wardens declared Lennox a “possible pitbull type” and in 2010 seized him under the UK’s dangerous dog act.

Owner Caroline Barnes, said her teenage daughter, Brooke, had been denied the chance to say a final farewell, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

"We had told Brooke that even if we don't win (the case), she can still see Lennox, have her last pictures with him and say goodbye," said Caroline Barnes. "To then have to tell her that no, that is not happening, it has been extremely unfair."

Victoria Stilwell

The euthanizing sparked expressions of outrage, including from celebrities such as Victoria Stilwell, host of Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog.”

“Outraged & devastated for the Barnes family,” Stilwell tweeted. “@BelfastCC are defending their decision to murder this ‘dangerous dog, but the world knows different.'”

Stilwell had offered to the Belfast City Council to take Lennox, all expenses paid, to a new home in the United States, but her request for a meeting to discuss the proposal went unanswered.

"I think the council had something to prove, and they were going to do it even though it was wrong," Stilwell told msnbc.com.

To owners of dogs targeted by breed-specific legislation, she warned: "Don’t trust your council and don’t trust your county. There are vindictive people dead set against bully breeds who will find you and take your dogs away."

She said she will work to fight breed-specific legislation.

"We must target the deed not the breed," Stilwell said. "We must hold irresponsible pet owners accountable. Dogs of any breed can be fantastic, and dogs of any breed can be dangerous. Breed-specific law is flawed; it just doesn’t work."

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A Belfast council spokesman on Wednesday, quoted by the Belfast Telegraph, said:

"Lennox, an illegalpit-bull terrier type, has been humanely put to sleep. This was in accordance with the Order of the County Court which was affirmed by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.

"Whilst there is an exemption scheme to which dogs of this type (pit-bull terrier type) may be admitted as an alternative to destruction, there were no such measures that could be applied in this case that would address the concerns relating to public safety. The Council’s expert described the dog as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across.

"Over the past two years, Council officials have been subjected to a sustained campaign of abuse including threats of violence and death threats. The Council has been in ongoing contact with the PSNI in relation to that.

"The Council regrets that the court action was necessary but would emphasise that the safety of the public remains its key priority."

Northern Ireland's senior appeals court last month upheld two 2011 court rulings that Lennox should be put down.

However, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson suggested on Monday that the Belfast City Council consider offers to take the dog elsewhere, raising the hopes of Lennox supporters, some of whom were protesting in New York. Protests were also held Saturday in Belfast, and a candlelight vigil was held there Tuesday night. Protests were also held Tuesday in Spain.

Online petitions garnered 200,000 signatures.

A Short Film Dedicated To Lennox The American Bull Dog Cross Wrongfully Seized By Belfast City Dog Wardens On May 19th 2010 And Sentenced To Death Because Of How He Looks.

Msnbc.com's Jim Gold contributed to this article. Follow him on Facebook here.

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