LONDON — After months on death row and a transatlantic campaign howling for his release, time has run out for Lennox the dog. He has been put to sleep, officials in Northern Ireland announced Wednesday.
In a terse statement, the Belfast City Council said it has humanely destroyed “one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs” that its appointed expert had ever come across. The council expressed regret for the court-ordered euthanasia, which it carried out for reasons of public safety despite “a sustained campaign of abuse” against city officials, including threats of harm and death.
The plight of Lennox, a pit bull terrier-type mutt, had inspired a viral social-media campaign in both Britain and the U.S., where animal-rights activists and others demanded that the dog be returned to its owner. Thousands of people signed an online petition for a stay of execution; First Minister Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland’s top leader, and Lennox Lewis, the boxing champion who shares an obvious connection to the dog, joined the chorus urging mercy.
In its odyssey through Northern Ireland’s legal system, Lennox’s case almost resembled that of a human offender convicted of a capital crime (except that the death penalty — for two-legged criminals, at any rate — is outlawed in Britain).