We’re covering a statement the Hate Campaign maintain is a direct quote from Peter Tallack in reply to questions one of them apparently sent to him last year.
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The questions apparently put to Peter Tallack :
“In your experience do you think Lennox stands any chance at all of being allowed to live? Could he be reassessed and rehomed somewhere well away from his former home?”
The alleged response from Peter Tallack :
“ The honest answer from me is, no I don’t think he could be safely re-homed anywhere.
When I examined him he was the most unpredictable PBT I have ever dealt with and that is taking everything into consideration. (1)
I don’t know if you [are] aware the first defence expert used by the Barnes family never even took him out of the kennel, she just said Pit Bull Dangerous!! and that was that. Her statement has never been mentioned or served on the Council. (2)
The second expert as you are aware was David Ryan who stopped his examination when Lennox lunged at him.
The third examination by Sarah was a farce and no real test whatsoever. (3)
Again I don’t know if you are aware but at the first Magistrates hearing there was me and the DW who said he was unpredictable. David Ryan and then Caroline Barnes in evidence said that Lennox had always been bad with strangers and was always leaded and muzzled since they had him. (4)
There were no family photographs of Lennox in the house or with her children which does lean toward our suspicions that Lennox was permanently chained in their yard. (5)
It is my view that Lennox is not a cross breed but pure PBT and for this behaviour is worrying, generally pure PBT when they have been looked after have superb temperaments. I really don’t know but suspect something has changed his temperament/ behaviour. (6)
Again I don’t know if you are aware the only person who has successfully made any bond with Lennox is the dog warden who was slaughtered by the campaign and yet every week drove all the way to the kennels just to spend time with him. (7)
Sadly it is my view that Lennox was the wrong dog to campaign for. There have been many other cases that could have been much more worth while cases. I do believe the law needs amending. (8)
I will say and my view will never change, human life must come first! It is very sad but because of some really stupid people out there, there has to [be a] law to protect human life and this is one of them.
I wish I had a magic wand and banish one or people out there, but I have now been involved in four fatalities in the last five years and three of those have been young children, if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard, if only I’d known or if only!
You can see why it was not a straight forward yes no answer! Sorry! (9) ”
According to the Hate Campaign the above statement was received via email from Peter Tallack in April 2012… while the case was ongoing.
Bearing in mind Peter Tallack knew why the first defence expert’s report wasn’t used and why that expert and her report were never allowed inclusion in the proceedings, it was very ill-advised and unprofessional of Mr Tallack to draw attention to the subject at all.
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Let’s break the statement down and have a nitpick :
(1) ” The honest answer from me is, no I don’t think he could be safely re-homed anywhere. When I examined him he was the most unpredictable PBT I have ever dealt with and that is taking everything into consideration. ”
According to Peter Tallack’s CV, his experience and involvement with ‘Pit Bull Terriers’ spans at least 25 years, some of it within a geographical area that was, according to him, “very densely populated where Pit Bull Terriers became very popular very quickly ” (a district of South London).
And so we’re all expected to believe that, in 25 or more years and with all that experience and involvement with ‘Pit Bull type dogs‘, Peter Tallack had NEVER come across a dog as unpredictable as Lennox.
As usual, there isn’t a speck of recorded proof for that claim, and no witness statements to back it up. Unless you include Sandie Lightfoot, with her alleged ten years similar experience with canines, who oddly enough said the same thing as Tallack, almost word for word, again without proof.
The only difference between those two is that Lightfoot’s claims were exposed as outright lies via online evidence, some of which had originally been leaked by the Hate Campaign with the intention of damaging Lennox’s case for his owners, but which justifiably backfired on Lightfoot and the rest of the HC.
It was very convenient for Tallack that his ‘examinations‘ of Lennox (on two occasions*) went unrecorded (not a requirement for the Respondent). In addition, to all intents and purposes Tallack was entirely alone when he conducted his examinations, because there is absolutely no mention of a witness in the court documents, and the issue of an accompanying witness or witnesses to Tallack’s assessments was not brought up in court.
*On the subject of the two visits by Tallack – the court documents state that he attended on the first occasion purely to take measurements and basically ascertain type (Tallack claims he ‘just happened‘ to be in Belfast at the time). That was three weeks after Lennox had been seized.
But on the one hand there’s Tallack in a radio interview saying that his job was to confirm type and, after much hedging, finally admitted (in a roundabout way) that he’s not a qualified behaviourist. On the other hand Tallack visits Lennox again a few months later – to do what exactly? Presumably he’d already taken his ‘measurements’ the first time around, so why come back again, if not to ‘assess’ Lennox’s behaviour, which is something he wasn’t (isn’t) qualified to do.
We should also bear in mind, by that time Lennox’s owner had been advised to agree type in order that Lennox could be assessed on merits, and this was already known long before Tallack’s second visit, so there wasn’t any need for him to see Lennox again, if indeed his involvement was purely about ‘type’.
In fact Tallack himself confirms in his radio interview that it was the responsibility of the Appellant to prove Lennox was not a danger to the public, not the other way around, so why was Tallack ‘assessing’?
And did the cost of that second visit come out of his own pocket, or was it on BCC (tax payer) expenses? Maybe it was included in his extremely generous and unwarranted ‘expert witness’ fee of £7500.
(2) ” I don’t know if you [are] aware the first defence expert used by the Barnes family never even took him out of the kennel, she just said Pit Bull Dangerous!! and that was that. Her statement has never been mentioned or served on the Council. “
The only truth in that statement is the last sentence.
Regards his ‘first defence expert’ remark, as Belfast City Council’s ‘expert witness’ and on their payroll at the time, Tallack was unwise to mention something disallowed in court.
His statement that the first defence expert “never even took him out of the kennel, she just said ‘Pit Bull Dangerous’ ”, makes us think that he isn’t the author of the email, because it’s a very blatant lie, as Peter Tallack is fully aware.
The first expert, Madeleine Forsythe, was not requested by or known to Lennox’s owners; she was brought in by their original solicitor, Angela Douglas, who was effectively dropped by Lennox’s owners for making serious errors and professionally spreading herself thin (link).
As Mr Tallack knows, Madeleine Forsythe assessed Lennox for a considerable amount of time. He’s also aware that she took Lennox out of the kennel without using a catchpole! However, her written report described an entirely different dog and was dated incorrectly. Therefore neither Ms Forsythe nor her assessment were allowed to be included in the proceedings.
(3) “ The second expert as you are aware was David Ryan who stopped his examination when Lennox lunged at him. The third examination by Sarah was a farce and no real test whatsoever. “
Very conveniently Peter Tallack fails to mention that at the point David Ryan stopped his examination, he had already been assessing Lennox for approximately an hour. Tallack also forgets to mention that David Ryan confirmed Lennox had the opportunity to bite him but chose not to do so (Court Doc 1, clause 25).
Considering Mr Ryan subjected Lennox to lengthy and numerous tests, goading and teasing him in an attempt to elicit an adverse response (at one point bumping Lennox on the nose with his fist), it says a lot about Lennox’s steady temperament that, after all that provocation, the only reaction from him was a lunge as described, followed by an immediate retreat. A human reaction to that kind of incitement would likely end with Mr Ryan having his face smacked (or worse), even if that human was in a strange place but able to make sense of the situation, unlike Lennox.
Not surprisingly, Peter Tallack calls Sarah Fisher’s examination of Lennox ‘a farce‘; it’s the kind of defensive remark you’d expect from someone like him, with his very limited experience and tunnel-vision.
Tallack has also publicly criticised Ms Fisher’s use of the food she offered to Lennox, implying that she was afraid and attempting to bribe him, but Peter Tallack says absolutely nothing about David Ryan’s routine practice of doing exactly the same thing, as this extract from Mr Ryan’s own report confirms: “…in one movement he lunged towards me, growled, barked and snapped. He did not make.contact with me and returned to sit with Ms Lightfoot. As he did so, I again offered him cheese, which he took immediately in a relaxed manner” .
Unlike Tallack, Sarah Fisher (a fully qualified animal behaviourist with many years experience – link), spent much longer with Lennox, conducting a full and controlled assessment (link), as opposed to the haphazard one that Tallack seems to have carried out. David Ryan also spent a long time with Lennox; in fact even the original expert who wasn’t allowed a mention (Forsythe) spent time with him.
Tallack, on the other hand, gives the impression that he barely got through the first half hour of his examination, and it’s easy to draw conclusions about that in the absence of a written report or witness statement to say otherwise.
It’s also easy to come to certain other conclusions bearing in mind Tallack’s public announcement that he would not hesitate to control a dog with extreme force. In fact, in one media article he was quoted as saying that standing on a dog’s neck is an acceptable form of control; now that’s something neither he nor the HC can dispute because it’s already ‘out there’ (that’s the downside of the Internet, information just never goes away when you want it to). And let’s not forget that even BCC describe Peter Tallack as a ‘dog handler‘.
(4) “ Again I don’t know if you are aware but at the first Magistrates hearing there was me and the DW who said he was unpredictable. David Ryan and then Caroline Barnes in evidence said that Lennox had always been bad with strangers and was always leaded and muzzled since they had him. “
We can’t argue with the fact that Tallack and Lightfoot agreed on saying that Lennox was unpredictable, to the point where they mimicked each other’s descriptions, but it looks as if Tallack is also implying that David Ryan knew Lennox was ‘always bad with strangers‘.
It’s difficult to imagine why Tallack thinks David Ryan could know anything of the sort, given that he’d never met Lennox before nor witnessed him in the presence of other strangers, and Lennox’s owner did not use the word ‘always‘. In fact she explained that Lennox had been wary of strangers since an incident with a group of youths. She also stated that he ‘didn’t deal well with strangers who forced themselves upon him‘, which is entirely different to ‘always‘ and ‘totally unpredictable‘, and at no point did she say that Lennox had been ‘leaded and muzzled since they had him‘, so where the hell Tallack plucked that one from is anyone’s guess.
To quote David Ryan from his own assessment of Lennox :
“Lennox was taken from a kennel in the rear of a van by Ms Lightfoot at my request. He was happy to come out of the van and allowed himself to be clipped onto a short lead. As he exited the van his attention was friendly and mostly directed towards Ms Lightfoot.
He acknowledged my presence but made no unfriendly move towards me, although he was walked to within touching distance of me. He was walked into a garage area where the assessment was to take place and began to sniff about.
To prevent him urine marking. I took the lead from Ms Lightfoot and walked him a short distance to a patch of grass. During this time he paid me little attention…I offered Lennox small pieces of cheese to increase my positive interaction and reduce threat. He took them readily and appeared relaxed on his own with me. “
David Ryan had previously stated: “ He [Lennox] was walked up to me, a complete stranger, in an environment with which he was not familiar, without incident. This suggests he has no inclination to show aggression to anyone he meets in public if not threatened. “
(5) “ There were no family photographs of Lennox in the house or with her children which does lean toward our suspicions that Lennox was permanently chained in their yard. “
*Sigh* Here we go again (link). Tallack WAS never, HAS never been inside Lennox’s home. It’s doubtful he’s been anywhere near it, unless he also made a habit of sitting outside their property like other members of the HC (link).
That statement alone almost convinces us that Peter Tallack is not the author of the email because surely he isn’t stupid enough, not only to tell such shockingly bare-faced lies, but to be that arrogant and careless during an ongoing court case in which he was an expert witness?
Or perhaps it was his way of saying that he had the backing and approval of Belfast City Council to say what he likes?
(6) “ It is my view that Lennox is not a cross breed but pure PBT and for this behaviour is worrying, generally pure PBT when they have been looked after have superb temperaments. I really don’t know but suspect something has changed his temperament/ behaviour. “
Well, we can probably safely say by now that Tallack’s ‘view‘ and opinions are worth precisely zilch. It’s extremely doubtful Lennox was aggressive or unpredictable with Tallack; it’s much more likely he was scared stiff.
Tallack and Lightfoot have had free rein to say what they please because there is no physical evidence to dispute their claims. Equally there is no physical evidence to support their claims. What a tragedy for Lennox and his family that Tallack’s visits weren’t recorded and witnessed impartially, start to finish.
(7) ” Again I don’t know if you are aware the only person who has successfully made any bond with Lennox is the dog warden who was slaughtered by the campaign and yet every week drove all the way to the kennels just to spend time with him. ”
Sandie Lightfoot, that ‘pillar of the community, the only one who bonded with Lennox and who went to all the trouble of visiting him every single week of his incarceration’. The same Sandie Lightfoot who, along with Tallack, did her very best to destroy Lennox’s reputation, resulting in his death. For someone who allegedly took months to bond with an animal, she had a strange way of showing her affection.
Tallack (or whoever wrote the email) has drawn attention to Sandie Lightfoot, the Belfast City Council Dog Warden at the time (now a BCC Animal Welfare Officer if you can believe it). So let’s discuss her briefly and run over a few points.
Sandie Lightfoot :
- testified under oath that it took her six months to build a relationship with Lennox, and yet we’ve all seen solid evidence released very soon after Lennox was seized showing Lightfoot looking extremely comfortable and relaxed in his company, almost distracted in fact (link);
- claimed she visited Lennox once each week, but could not prove it, and when asked to provide visual evidence that Lennox was in good health during his incarceration, she ‘leaked’ photographs of an entirely different (and healthy, happy) dog, passing him off as Lennox (link);
- was regularly found on Facebook using a fake profile (more on that in another entry);
- could provide no evidence to support her claims that Lennox was ‘one of the most aggressive and unpredictable dogs she had ever met‘;
- lied under oath – Lightfoot’s false claim that Lennox’s owner had said ‘the dog will rip your head off‘ could not be corroborated by the colleague who was with her at the time. When cross-examined in court, Lightfoot’s colleague stated that she did not hear those words being spoken. Therefore that false claim was dismissed.
- lied about stalking – a letter from her employers, Belfast City Council confirmed that Lightfoot was indeed sitting outside Lennox’s owner’s house on at least one occasion. That letter contained a warning to the owners not to use images they had taken of Lightfoot that day, therefore BCC themselves confirmed she was outside their property and was not, as BCC had previously falsely claimed, ‘on indefinite leave‘;
(8) “ Sadly it is my view that Lennox was the wrong dog to campaign for. There have been many other cases that could have been much more worth while cases. I do believe the law needs amending.“
Lennox wasn’t the wrong dog, he was absolutely the right one and his case alone has brought attention to deceitful and morally-challenged people such as Tallack and Lightfoot, not to mention an atrocious, ineffectual and dysfunctional law.
As for an amendment to the law, that just shows Tallack for what he is, unintelligent and narrow-minded. The law needs to be abolished, scrapped, and the emphasis placed elsewhere, on owners and backyard breeders.
Lennox, aged five years old at the time, never had a complaint made against him for any reason. He had never bitten anyone (in spite of ‘someone’ at BCC telling Sarah Fisher a different fabricated story), and he had never been threatening or aggressive. He didn’t bite David Ryan and Sandie Lightfoot has not been able to show evidence to support her own claims because they are false.
So that just leaves Peter Tallack, and it begs the question, what was the real reason he used a catchpole to keep Lennox at bay? Was it to goad him into some kind of reaction, or maybe Tallack had already done that? Or perhaps he just needed to show Lennox in a bad light. Whatever his reasons, it wasn’t due to Lennox being aggressive and unpredictable, because we all know he wasn’t.
(9) ” I will say and my view will never change, human life must come first! It is very sad but because of some really stupid people out there, there has to [be a] law to protect human life and this is one of them. I wish I had a magic wand and banish one or people out there, but I have now been involved in four fatalities in the last five years and three of those have been young children, if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard, if only I’d known or if only! You can see why it was not a straight forward yes no answer! Sorry! “
Tallack showing there that he hasn’t a clue, although he’s right about one thing, there are some really stupid people out there. He’s friends with some of them and the next time he passes a mirror he’ll find another.
As for the magic wand, he might try using it for some self-improvement. If he really had absorbed and taken on board anything worthwhile in the last thirty years, you’d think he would have twigged by now that human behaviour is the problem. BSL is an ineffectual, grotesque sticky plaster, not a cure nor a remedy. The problem should be tackled where it starts, with the owners.
Maybe Tallack could try his violent dog-control techniques on the next bad owner he meets, see how far that gets him. That owner might have something to say about it, a dog doesn’t have a voice; it doesn’t have a choice. And neither did Lennox.
Tallack spent very little overall time with Lennox, yet used a catchpole on him. Not one other person who came into contact with Lennox needed to do that. He was observed with a neck injury that hadn’t existed before Tallack assessed him. Another easily drawn conclusion.
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- There are no records or physical evidence to support Peter Tallack’s claims that Lennox was ‘aggressive and unpredictable‘;
- There are no records or physical evidence confirming that Tallack’s visits to Lennox were witnessed by anyone;
- There are no records or physical evidence to support Sandie Lightfoot’s claims that Lennox was ‘aggressive and unpredictable‘;
Everyone asks the same thing, ‘How is it that Peter Tallack remained a constable for all those years, without promotion‘. We think the clue lies in his attitude and conduct highlighted during the Lennox case.
It’s very telling that Sandie Lightfoot and Mel Page count him as a good friend, and it says everything about their poor moral standards we’ve come to know so well.
We’ve had a few messages asking us to include some information about Peter Tallack’s conduct and comments in court. Many people witnessed it on the day, so it’s only right to share it here…
During cross-examination, Mr Tallack became increasingly agitated, sweating heavily and wiping his brow. Obviously extremely uncomfortable at being questioned, here are two examples of his conduct:
- Peter Tallack, referring to Lennox’s owner, Caroline Barnes, randomly challenged her right to own a dog owing to the fact that she walked with a limp and required a walking stick;
- Peter Tallack, whilst testifying in the witness stand, turned to the Judge complaining that he could not continue because ‘people were looking at him‘ !
Yes exactly, you really couldn’t make it up!
Let’s also not forget that during the Nando Brown radio interview on 14 July 2012, Peter Tallack clearly stated, at length, that it was the first time he had spoken out in public or given an interview about the Lennox case. His earlier interview for the Nolan Show, Radio Ulster on 31 March 2011 must have slipped his mind (link).
Tallack’s interview on the Nando Brown show begins at roughly 25 minutes (link below). You’ll hear Mr Tallack start with a touch of grovelling, then avoidance (re: his qualifications). After that your mouth will likely drop open at the lies spewing forth. He even manages to mention the first expert witness.
Then you’ll probably start going red in the face yourself when you hear the malice directed at Lennox’s family (try not to stick a fist through the computer screen). Be warned – you’ll hear the familiar innuendo and gossip that we’ve witnessed so often with the rest of the Hate Campaign. He’s even arrogant enough to imply on air that Lennox was a yard dog!
The rest of the show is taken up, quite rightly, by an interview with Sarah Fisher plus a chat with Victoria Stilwell and Jim Crosby. Well worth a listen, all of it. And someone very closely connected to the Hate Campaign makes a cameo appearance with some interesting own goal comments. (LINK)
For the love of dogz by Sarah Gunther
»» Bruce :
“Our solicitor was Alison Douglas. She was committed and no nonsense. She cried with us when the judge ruled in our favour and was professional throughout the whole legal ordeal. She also helped with the last legal bill! She knows how wrong BSL is and went way beyond her call of duty to help Bruce.”
"Alison was the first solicitor Lennox owners had and she stepped down as their legal counsel only a few short months into the case. She was vilified by the owners and their followers and countless stories were made up. People forget or do not know that a solicitor can’t just step down from a case, they have to state their case as to why to a judge and obviously it was good enough for the Judge to grant it."
Yes, Ms Douglas did step down, and that’s because she was spreading herself a bit thin. Ms Douglas made errors regarding evidence and relating to the instructing of an expert witness. If the owners had simply dismissed her they would have been assigned a solicitor chosen by the court.
To avoid that happening, and to give themselves enough time to instruct a solicitor who would be more committed, the owners informed Ms Douglas they were aware she had made certain mistakes and she therefore took herself off the case. Furthermore, she was not ‘vilified’ by the owners, they simply told the truth. If others chose to ‘vilify’ her, the owners can hardly be responsible for that.
"Since Alison was our legal rock for Bruce so why did she pack in the case? She must have had a very very good reason for stepping down and I am sure she will eventually answer the question when put to her."
Refer to our response above, plus enquire about a certain ‘conflict of interest’. Ms Douglas will no doubt answer that question when put to her.
"Anyone who asked Lennox’ owner was told she hates dogs and is pro BSL – this we KNOW to be untrue, given our experience with her and the way she handled Bruce’s case."
Ms Gunther provides no evidence to substantiate that accusation.
"Could it be that the very first assessor of Lennox for the defense stated that Lennox was aggressive? Why did the assessment of Lennox by Madeleine Forsythe never presented to the Courts? Could it be that Alison realised she had been lied to by the very people whom she represented?"
Madeleine Forsythe was indeed the first assessor. She was not known to, nor requested by, Lennox’s owners and was, in fact, brought in by someone else – we suggest Ms Gunther asks Alison Douglas to apprise her of that, if she hasn’t done so already.
In brief, Ms Forsythe assessed Lennox for over an hour (contrary to fabrications and gossip, she took him out of the kennel without using a catchpole) but her written report described a different dog and was dated incorrectly. Ms Forsythe was not allowed to be mentioned in court and therefore that assessment was not used.
"YES, many of you have never heard of Madeleine Forsythe, have you? Lennox’ owners kept that one VERY quiet, aye?"
It’s evident from that comment Ms Gunther’s relationship with Alison Douglas isn’t as cosy as she makes out, because Ms Douglas would have told her that Madeleine Forsythe’s name and assessment was ‘kept quiet’ for legal reasons, as instructed by the court. Or perhaps Ms Gunther did know, but was just scoring another cheap point.
As for the rest of that post, it’s hardly worth bothering with. We all know that Lennox was ‘deemed highly unstable and aggressive‘ by extremely unreliable and, let’s face it, very dodgy sources. Enough said about that, for now.
And then there’s Bruce, whose owners ‘cooperated’ with Sarah Gunther. In other words, they did as they were told and she got her hands on the dog.
“HOW did a yard dog all of a sudden become a *therapy* dog? WHY had the solicitor dropped the case? WHY the need for donations when the whole case was funded by Free Legal Aid? WHY did the vet, who allegedly treated Lennox for hair loss, not testify, neither did the dog trainer they allegedly had? WHY did none of the neighbours testify on Lennox’s behaviour? WHY did the owner now say that her daughter was traumatised when the dog warden ripped the dog from her arms when she stated clearly in her email to EGAR that her daughter was in school?”
For starters, Gunther’s got a bloody cheek asking those questions. But considering she was seriously pissed off that her offer had been rejected, it makes sense.
As with pretty much everything the Hate Campaign churn out as ‘fact’, Gunther had no proof whatsoever that Lennox was a yard dog, that’s just pure spite; similarly the ‘therapy’ dog remark. In one instance on her blog Gunther is piqued because she wasn’t made aware of certain facts, so those facts she then decided were henceforth going to be called ‘lies’. Why the hell would the owners tell her what’s going on anyway?
The solicitor question has been answered previously, and as for donations and ‘the whole case was funded by Free Legal Aid‘, that’s another nasty HC lie, but quite how Gunther can claim to be privy to protected information is anyone’s guess.
Even if, as we all suspect, a certain BCC employee was leaking documents and information, she would not have access to those details. But, as usual, what the HC don’t know, they make up as they go along.
As you all know, there never was thousands and thousands received in donations, Caroline Barnes received only partial Legal Aid and David Ryan’s assessment was not covered by it. Anyone who says differently is a vindictive and malicious liar because there is no way those outside of the family, their legal team and people they choose to confide in can possibly have access to that privileged information. Not even a fake barrister or a dog warden.
The vet question is bizarre – why would a vet testify? Does Gunther think a vet would do that out of the goodness of their heart, and not charge a blinding hourly fee for the privilege?
The neighbours’ question is probably the daftest one to date, and she hasn’t shown any evidence for asking the last question (you can’t have failed to notice that, in spite of their claims never to bring the child into the mix, without fail they always manage to mention or allude to her in some way. Nice people.).
"**The dog wardens attended on 19 May 2010. One of the wardens, Ms Lightfoot, attempted to examine the dog in the kitchen. The dog was very agitated, barking and growling. The dog lunged at her head and hit her with his muzzle. She was unable to carry out the examination because the dog was repeatedly lunging at her. The applicant finally agreed that the dog wardens could take the dog and she placed the dog in the Council van.**
It took her months to gain Lennox’s trust and she was the one who handled the dog when the assessments were carried out. This was used against her in the following hate campaign against her person. Absolutely ludicrous."
Regarding the day Lennox was seized, at one point there were five adults in that kitchen, four of them strangers in uniform.
Ms Lightfoot testified that ‘the Appellant’s kitchen was neither small nor crowded‘ but it’s our understanding that the kitchen is not large at all and is narrow in shape. In other words, everyone in that room would have been in close proximity to each other, and we don’t know of any dog who is likely to be comfortable in that situation.
However, regarding the ‘lunge’ (that word they love to use for greater impact) and Lightfoot being ‘hit on the head’ by Lennox’s muzzle – another dog warden who was present on that occasion, on being questioned in court, pointed to her chest whilst physically describing how Ms Lightfoot was hit, and the other warden didn’t testify on that question at all. The police officer had already left prior to Lennox being removed from the house, so that just left the three dog wardens, one of which couldn’t seem to make up her mind where on Lightfoot’s body Lennox had made contact.
It always brings a wry smile, whenever we see statements like this: ‘It took her (Lightfoot) months to gain Lennox’s trust‘. Visual evidence says something entirely different, with Lightfoot looking extremely relaxed and comfortable in Lennox’s company virtually from the off (e.g. link), and what Ms Gunther means by ‘against her person‘ is anyone’s guess, but chances are she’s alluding to the unsubstantiated claims of physical harassment again. Absolutely ludicrous!
"Their own defence expert said in Court: ** On the other hand Mr David Ryan, on behalf of the applicant, in a report dated 16 March 2011 recorded that when he reached over the dog’s head to clip a line to the back of his collar in one m
ovement the dog lunged towards him, growled, barked and snapped.**"
Covered previously (link). This is another example of how Gunther and the rest of the HC prefer to take quotes out of context or, in this case, accidentally-on-purpose omit the rest of the statement, which is: ‘fortunately the dog did not bite Mr (Ryan) although he acknowledged that it could have done so if it had wanted to.‘.
Mr Ryan’s own report states: ‘in one movement he lunged towards me, growled, barked and snapped. He did not make.contact with me and returned to sit with Ms Lightfoot. As he did so, I again offered him cheese, which he took immediately in a relaxed manner‘.
The owner admitted in Court: **The applicant accepted that the dog was of the type known as a Pit Bull Terrier and that she was guilty of the offence of being the keeper of such a dog within Article 25A of the 1983 Order as amended. **"
Given Ms Gunther’s familiarity with BSL and court procedures, we’re surprised she’s bothered drawing attention to that. She knows full well the reason for the ‘applicant’s acceptance’ that the dog was type and, even so, her friends over at Deed not breed could no doubt explain the procedure to her.
But she’s pushing her luck expecting anyone to believe she’s unaware that agreeing with an assessment, pleading guilty to owning a banned type and cooperating with the courts would be the only way to get a dog like Lennox home, because it would then be based on temperament and, since Lennox had never had any complaints and no incidents had ever occurred, it should have been cut and dried.
Unfortunately, at the time, no one could have foreseen the likes of Tallack and Lightfoot making up stories about Lennox’s aggression, ensuring only one tragic outcome.
And finally to Sarah Gunther’s bullet point Q’s:
- ‘WHY was the petition signed by so many thousands never even presented to the Courts?’ Why does she think it wasn’t?
- ‘WHY neither, was any petition made to remove Lennox from the jurisdiction despite plenty of offers from various countries/organisations, not just EGAR.’ Already answered above.
- ‘And WHY the constant need for donations, when the whole case was funded by the taxpayer via Free Legal Aid?‘ Already answered above.
- ‘WHY are there no pictures of Lennox in the house as an adult (apart from a badly photo shopped one)?’ What makes her think there wasn’t? How could she know one way or another, ergo why is she stating it as ‘fact’? And where is her proof the image was photoshopped?
- ‘WHY did Craig Winters aka John Winters aka Micheal Hunter threaten another well known anti BSL organisation with terrorist organisations and spammed the EGAR wall with vile threats and ridiculous allegations?‘ Where is Gunther’s proof of all this? And why didn’t she just come out and name ‘Deed not Breed’? If she has no real involvement in it, or anyone connected to it, as she claims, why be so shy about using their title?
- ‘WHY did the owner never sent any treats or bedding to Lennox? EVER..?’ Another mindless and vindictive HC lie. So did this one originate from Gunther herself or is she just spreading gossip quoted by others? Where is her proof? Perhaps she’s referring to the dog a certain BCC employee passed off as Lennox claiming him to be so starved of toys a member of the HC sent him a few so the BCC employee could photograph the dog playing with them (link).
- ‘WHY did they not ring the dog warden to enquire about their dog?’ Which ‘dog warden’? Would that be the dog warden whose lie was dismissed in court because her colleague couldn’t back it up? The same dog warden who said Lennox was ‘aggressive’ when she knew damn well he wasn’t? The same dog warden who was photographed outside the owners’ property when she was allegedly on ‘indefinite leave’?
- ‘And WHY did he say in Court: *Ms Barnes’ partner told the dog wardens that the dog would “rip your head off” if approached**’. Ms Gunther seems to be getting confused with her use of the word ‘he’ (and so are we). She should ask her friends who were in court on a particular day what happened when Lightfoot testified that Craig Winters had allegedly told her ‘the dog will rip your head off‘. As those friends will recall, the dog warden who accompanied Lightfoot that day testified under oath that she did not hear those words and ‘could not recall them being spoken’. In fact that little piece of evidence from Lightfoot was disallowed. It’s probably a shame to burst that particular HC balloon but they’ve had more than enough mileage out of it already.
Before we go….
"PS. NONE of us were against Lennox to suggest otherwise is ludicrous, we are, however, anti lies and deception. And to those who direct their energy towards threats, violence and untruths: there are countless dogs like Lennox in the Pound, if you want to do something CONSTRUCTIVE then we strongly suggest you help them and lobby the government in the UK to abolish BSL."
Unfortunately for Ms Gunther, protestations about being onside with Lennox don’t hold water any more owing to the content of her blog.
Same goes for the ‘anti-lies and deception’ claims, which are laughable given her track record, particularly on the blog.
We couldn’t agree more with her final sentiment, it’s just a pity she didn’t take her own advice. All that time spent bitching about Lennox’s owners, blogging about it and posting on Facebook could have been used wisely and productively from an anti-BSL point of view.
You know a vendetta has hit rock-bottom when the people behind it resort to an attempt at discrediting the reputation of someone like Sarah Fisher, and the Hate Campaign did just that (link). Had David Ryan not said something the HC could extract to give their spite a little lift, he would have received the same treatment (*below).
Sarah Fisher’s reputation as a renowned animal behaviourist of long-standing could not be disputed by the HC, so the malignant excuse-for-a-human behind the Roxanne Summers profile set about fabricating a story, claiming to have personally acquired this ‘scoop’. Once again the rest of the HC lapped it up, because, as far as they’re concerned, anything Summers and Jones spewed was Gospel, whether it was suspect or not (admittedly, the ‘or not‘ is pushing the boundaries just a bit).
That particular ‘scoop’ entailed Summers apparently privy to the workings of Belfast City Council. Despite her report being a big fat lie, it’s interesting that whatever the real (and still active) identity of the sleazeball behind ‘Summers’, the other hate campaigners either believed or knew the BCC connection existed. Since we all know that ‘Summers’ was not a barrister, what role can we assume that person played in BCC then? Probably not a lavatory attendant.
One thing’s for sure, we can whittle down possible suspects by dismissing the likes of Day, Gathercole, Vermin, Jules, Enselmann, yada, yada, who are merely the flotsam picked up along the way, each one with about as much clout, influence and nous of a gnat.
(From the evidence so far, it’s highly unlikely a single one of them is capable of coming up with anything that remotely smacks of an intelligent fabrication, their only use in the HC being to back-up, bolster, fawn and share.)
Sarah Fisher was probably unaware of that particular piece of vindictive gossip at the time, and she’s unlikely to have responded anyway. However, she had previously been compelled to issue a statement for other reasons (below and link), which is most likely why the HC tried to discredit her with one of their usual potboilers.
Right from the start of the Save Lennox campaign, it was evident the people behind the HC were quite prepared, in their efforts to degrade his owners, to damage any chances of Lennox being released, that’s common knowledge now, the evidence is everywhere. So all the crap about Lennox’s welfare being paramount to them is a crock.
To illustrate that point, as we all know, one of their efforts to discredit Lennox backfired spectacularly when a small extract of David Ryan’s recorded assessment was leaked in an attempt at demonstrating Lennox’s so-called ‘aggression’. The only purpose that extract served was to highlight how very comfortable and relaxed dog warden Sandie Lightfoot was in the company of Lennox, and, in turn, his own good manners and sweet nature.
The extract also elicited another response, and details of Mr Ryan’s full assessment were revealed, disclosing methods used by him to taunt and goad Lennox into a negative reaction, which actually showed Lennox to be a well behaved dog.
*(As they just love to quote the court documents, this is taken from David Ryan’s statement regarding part of his assessment where he more or less pinned Lennox to a wall, giving the dog no place to go : “..’in one movement he lunged towards me, growled, barked and snapped’. Fortunately the dog did not bite Mr (Ryan) although he acknowledged that it could have done so if it had wanted to.” – link). That was the only ‘aggressive’ reaction from Lennox recorded in the whole of Mr Ryan’s assessment, which we understand lasted for an hour, more or less.
(That extract direct from David Ryan’s report states: “… in one movement he lunged towards me, growled, barked and snapped. He did not make.contact with me and returned to sit with Ms Lightfoot. As he did so, I again offered him cheese, which he took immediately in a relaxed manner…”)
It was after that particular HC home goal that the vendetta stepped up, becoming more malicious and inventive, getting to the point where a vindictive idea that came right off the top of their boneheads was quoted as fact.
- Consider who, right from the beginning, was affronted by Lennox’s owners and their refusal to back down and allow Lennox to be destroyed without a fight. Who decided Lennox’s owners had absolutely no right to challenge an unjust system and stand up against the arrogance of certain people within that system? And who stood to lose credibility or, come to that, was refused an offer of involvement?
- Who had reason, motive and the ability to leak documents and video extracts and pass off images of another dog, claiming to show Lennox in good health during his incarceration (link)? Who is closely associated with someone who could have done all those things?
- When the lies, innuendo and gossip didn’t take hold and were dismissed or ignored by all but a handful of people, who became so desperate for attention they risked fabricating evidence, assuming fake profiles would prevent them from being discovered? (e.g. link)
That vendetta commenced almost immediately after Lennox was seized, making it perfectly obvious that the reasons for the hate campaign were very personal indeed and had nothing whatsoever to do with Lennox, but everything to do with revenge and resentment.
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Statement of Sarah Fisher made on 11 October 2011:
»» ” It has been brought to my attention that a small clip of my assessment of Lennox has been put on the Internet. This clip has been taken completely out of context and whilst I have remained relatively quiet on this case since I spoke in court, I feel that I am now forced to make a statement to clarify what actually happened during the time I was with Lennox.
Wrongly or rightly many documents and details about this case have been passed onto different parties. I do not feel it is appropriate for me at this moment to discuss in detail everything that has been said to me, nor to put forward my own ideas regarding all the statements made, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion and beliefs. What I am qualified to do however is to discuss behaviour. My assessments, statements and videos of those assessments have been accepted in other court cases at Magistrates, County and Crown Courts here in the UK, so the field of assessment in cases such as this is not unknown to me.
I do not care if I am to be criticized by members of the public or even other professional bodies as I have a wealth of experience handling and working with many breeds of dogs, large and small, and I also work with horses with behavioural issues, so I do not need to defend the claims that I have little or no experience of working with powerful animals such as Pit Bull Types. I would however like to clarify that a Pit Bull Type is often a mix of dogs. Nothing extraordinary happens to the psyche of a dog when it conforms to certain measurements.
I do care however that Lennox is being portrayed in a poor light through this video clip as my experience of handling Lennox was thoroughly enjoyable and I now feel the need to explain in greater detail the truth, as I see it, about my assessment. I know that Victoria Stilwell has been, what I would consider to be, a sane voice amidst the madness that surrounds this case, and she has seen full video footage of the assessments carried out by myself and David Ryan, plus other documentation.
When the door to the van was first opened Lennox barked. He barked at me three times when I approached. As I said in my report this is not uncommon behaviour in any dog that is in a confined situation in a crate, kennel or in a car. He was also shaking like a leaf but this does not come over in the video that my assistant took of this assessment. He was clearly frightened as he could not have known what was going to happen to him and again this is not an uncommon behaviour in the dogs that come to me for help. No one has ever disputed that Lennox can be anxious around some strangers but I believe the key word some has sadly been overlooked.
I asked for someone that Lennox knew to take him out of the crate to keep his stress levels low. Entry and exit points can be a source of conflict for any dog. I was told I had to handle Lennox on my own for the entire assessment and that he had bitten the last person that came to see him (see below). This is the clip that has been released. Had I had any concerns for my safety or those around me given that I was to be fully and wholly responsible for a dog that I do not know and that I had been told has bitten, I would not have continued with the assessment if I believed that dog to be a danger either to myself or those who were standing in the car park. Lennox gave me a lot of information about his temperament whilst in the crate.
In court however, and therefore under oath, Ms Lightfoot, the Dog Warden stated that in fact Lennox had not bitten anyone so I have to assume on the evidence placed before the court that the statement made to me at the start of my assessment was untrue. Given the publicity surrounding this case I am also confident that had Lennox actually bitten anyone whilst in the care of his family, as has been suggested, someone would have come forward by now.
I spent approx fifteen minutes with Lennox prior to being taken from the crate, working with a clicker and some treats to see if, even in the environment that was causing him some anxiety, he could still learn and take direction from a stranger. He could. His eyes were soft and he was friendly. At this point I would also like to clarify the meaning of the word friendly. It does not mean confident. Was Lennox anxious? Yes. Hostile? No.
I believe that Lennox would have been totally at ease had I indeed taken him out myself but I also believe I have a duty of care to reduce stress where possible when handling any animal in a situation that is causing them distress. No doubt this statement will also be taken out of context by those who wish to discredit me and to discredit my belief that Lennox is not a danger to the public based on my experience with him, and also based on the video assessment carried out by David Ryan, which I have also seen.
I use food in an assessment to monitor the dogs stress levels and emotions at all times. It is not a bribe. A habitually aggressive dog will generally seek out conflict in my experience but even these dogs can often be rehabilitated. No amount of food can disguise this behaviour and giving food to a dog with aggression issues can be extremely dangerous. The dog may be lured to a person by the promise of food but once it has taken the food it may panic as the offering of the food has now brought that dog into close proximity with the threat i.e. a stranger. I have worked with dogs with aggression issues and whilst some may well take the food, the person delivering the food may not be able to move once the food has gone as the movement of the person, even the smallest movement of their arm, may trigger the dog to lunge and bite.
I would not hand feed a dog that I deem to be aggressive. The delivery of the treat must come from the person that the dog knows and trusts – not the stranger. The dog can learn to approach a threat and then turn back to the person that the dog trusts for the reward if the approach to the person is appropriate. I use food throughout an assessment to monitor what is happening with the dog on an emotional and physical level not to make him my best friend.
Lennox was so gentle with the taking of the food both in the crate and also later in the car park. He was also appropriate in his behaviour with the games we played. He was also gentle when he jumped up at me to see if he was allowed the food that I was withholding in my hand. When he realised it wasn’t forthcoming he politely backed off. This would suggest to me that he has been around a family. Not chained up in a yard as has also been claimed by people who do not know the family or the dog.
Lennox showed excellent impulse control at all times and at no point did he grab me or my own clothing, which many dogs do when getting excited by a game. I have worked with some truly challenging dogs and some will become increasingly aroused by lead ragging or games with toys and start seriously mouthing or biting the handlers arms or clothing. This can quickly flip over to more overt aggression and these dogs can be dangerous particularly if they are being handled by just one person. It is imperative that dogs with this behaviour are taught a more appropriate way of interacting with people and responding to the leash and also greater self control. There are many ways to help dogs that have been encouraged, through mishandling and misunderstanding, to behave in such a manner. Kicking and beating them is certainly not the answer.
Lennox does rag on the lead but it is very self controlled. He did not exhibit any of the behaviours that I have mentioned above. Regardless of what some uneducated people may wish to think, it is possible to glean a lot of information about a dog through games and food as many behaviour counsellors and trainers will confirm.
I wrote a fifteen page report on my experience with Lennox and my thoughts about the David Ryan assessment. In this report I state that I have concerns about the appearance of Lennox’s neck. In the video I explain this too. His ears are unlevel and there was a change in the lay of his coat over the Atlas in line with the nuchal ligament that is present between T1 and C2 vertebrae. Coat changes often occur in dogs, cats and horses that have suffered injury or those that are unwell. I have studied this over seventeen years of handling many animals. In all cases where I referred an animal back to a vet, whether it was in the care of a shelter, owned by my private clients or students that I teach changes to the soft tissue or skeleton were noted on further detailed investigation. When I see this around the neck in a dog I know that it is likely to give the dog cause for concern when someone unknown to that dog attempts to handle the collar or put on or take off a lead. Coat changes may well be present where deep bruising has also occurred. Pain and pain memory is a key factor in many behavioural problems.
Lennox was quite rightly put on Amitriptyline. I do not believe that the Council have failed in their duty to care for Lennox when it comes to the stress that he has been under and I understand that this drug is used to treat anxiety and depression. It was with interest, though, that I discovered that this drug is also used to treat chronic pain in dogs. Again this was mentioned in my written report. This may explain in part why my experience with Lennox seems to fly in the face of other evidence presented before the courts. He was not on Amitriptyline when he was assessed by David Ryan.
I would absolutely move on to touch an animal all over its body in any assessment that I do. I may or may not choose to muzzle a dog that is unknown to me to do this if I have concerns about the body language that I have seen prior to this part of my assessment. I elected not to stroke Lennox all over because of my concerns about his neck, the newly forming scabs that were present on his flanks and the blood that was present around the nail beds around his right hind foot. This decision was made based on the physical evidence before me not because I felt I would be in danger. I talked about this in court which was open to the public and at the end of my assessment which is also on film I explained this to a representative from the BCC Dog Warden team and asked if there was anything else that she would like me to do with Lennox. She said no.
I cannot comment on what happened when Lennox was seized or measured by Peter Tallack because I wasn’t there. I can explain behaviour though and any frightened animal can be intimidating. I have recently been in Romania working with traumatised horses and two stallions had not been mucked out for months as the staff (men) were too scared to go in with them. They called them ‘pitbulls’ such is the misguided impression of this type of dog. Hay had been simply thrown over the stable doors and their water buckets were hanging crushed against the stable wall. I went in with them, not because I have any desire to be a hero, but because I can read an animal well and within minutes they were quiet, standing at the end of their stables albeit it pressed up against the walls. I was calm with them and we took out all the filthy bedding and fetched new water buckets for them too. They didn’t attack anyone. They were simply terrified and they were not provoked. I spent time with one of them on my own, hand feeding him and was finally able to touch his face.
This process probably took less than half an hour. I was totally absorbed in what I was doing and when I turned to walk out I realised that one of the Romanian men had been watching me. He raised his eyebrows, gave me the thumbs up and walked away. Other people could then go in with this magnificent horse too and hand feed him the fresh sweet grass that we had picked from the surrounding fields so it isn’t simply that I am quiet in my handling of animals nor possess some extraordinary skill that can make even the most savage lion behave like a lamb when in my company.
I can perhaps, help an animal that is struggling, gain trust in human beings as many people can. I can perhaps work with a difficult animal and make it look as though that animal is calm but all the time I am reading that animal. Every second of the way. I am looking at the eyes if it is safe to do so, I am watching the respiration, I am studying the movement, the set of the ears and the tail and so on and my opinions about an animal are based on many years of working in this way. One case that will always stand out in my mind was a large member of the Bull Breed family. I believe she was two years old. I won’t go into the details here but I will say that when I worked with her she appeared to be very good to the member of kennel staff that was watching. At the end of my assessment the member of staff asked me what I thought. I sadly had to say that I thought the dog should be put to sleep. The member of staff was horrified and I remember her saying ‘but she’s been so good with you’. But I had noticed some worrying signs. The shelter ignored my advice and rehomed the dog who savaged the new owner so badly the owner ended up in the ICU. Of course the dog was immediately destroyed.
I knew what I was walking into when I agreed to go and assess Lennox for the family. To have to defend Lennox outside of the court has, however, come as a surprise. I have made this statement to shed a little more light on what is a distressing case for all those involved, knowing full well that I will no doubt be subject to further scrutiny and criticism. So be it. I am not afraid. If nothing else this case has highlighted some important issues about the fears and prejudice concerning dogs, their breed types and their behaviour. Certainly it highlights the sad truth as Xenephon said so wisely in 400 BC, ‘Where knowledge ends, violence begins’.” ««