Last of the dog days

Lennox the pit bull to meet his maker as Defra plans further clampdown

Last week Belfast High Court rejected the final appeal to save a mongrel called Lennox from being terminated. Lennox is classified as a pit bull and, until last year, this would have meant he was automatically sentenced to death under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

In 2011 the law was amended in Northern Ireland (NI), 14 years after England, Scotland and Wales.

Confused? Thanks to the power of Google, we can discover what dog law specialists think. Trevor Cooper of Cooper & Co (whose firm runs the handy, explains that the decision brought NI into line with the rest of the UK.

“At the end of last year the law was updated […] and means that people could have these kinds of dogs provided that they were not deemed a danger to public safety,” states Cooper.

Devolution has created a “patchwork quilt” of dog laws, he admits. “Scotland has extended [the act] to include private property. This is not the case in England and Wales where, if a dog injures a person on private property, it is not deemed a criminal offence.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is looking to change this and is carrying out a consultation exercise.

“It would be a significant step forward and we should be using modern technologies [like microchipping],” he says. “It won’t necessarily make dogs less dangerous, but it will be of great benefit to councils and the general public.”

Good to see the government taking a lead, as it were.