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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Family's heartbreak as 'big softie' dog is put down by council just TWO HOURS after it was let out by burglars

By Daily Mail Reporter

-4pm: Dog is startled by burglar and runs out of the house
-6pm: Council catches it and puts it down without notifying owners

Caught: Police and a dog warden captured Lennox after burglars let him out of his home in Weymouth

A family was left devastated after their pet dog escaped from their home during a burglary - and was then put down by the council just two hours later.

It is thought four-year-old Lennox was startled by the intruder and ran out of the house in Weymouth, Dorset.

Members of the public reported the Rottweiler-cross to police after he was spotted wandering the streets of Weymouth, Dorset.

Lennox was subsequently captured by officers and a council dog warden, who used a pole and noose to trap him before assessing him as 'vicious'.

Despite the fact he had a microchip implant which would have identified him and his owners to vets, he was put to sleep.

The dog, described as a 'big softie' by its owners, was put down by a vet at 6pm - just two hours after the break-in.

His worried family arrived home at 8pm and reported both the burglary and Lennox missing to the police.

At first they were wrongly told Lennox was being held in council kennels but were later informed he had been put down.

Owner Sophie Johnston, 24, is livid that Lennox, who was micro-chipped, was put down so quickly without receiving so much as a phone call from the authorities.

Miss Johnston said the dog had been brought up with her two children Freya, six, and Khan, four, and added: 'He was a big softie.

Anger: (l-r) At the front Sophie Johnston and family friend Andy James, with photo of Lennox, at the back Sophie's partner James Maskery, and their children Khan and Freya James

'He was scared of the hoover and even our kittens used to bully him and throw him off his bed.

'He has got out before and we have called the dog warden as a precaution, so they have our number.

'He was micro-chipped. They should have at least called us.

'I could understand the decision if he had got out and hurt someone, but he didn't.'
Her family is now considering taking legal action against Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

Miss Johnston had left Lennox at home while she and partner James Maskery, 21, went out for a few hours.

While they were away family friend Andy James, 23, received a call from a neighbour to say Lennox was on the loose. He went to investigate and found the couple had been burgled.

Mr James said: "The front door was closed when I got there. I went round the back and called Lennox and tried to see if he was inside but he wasn't.

'I walked back round to the front and the front door was open. I think I must have disturbed whoever was in there.'

It is thought a games console was stolen during the break in.

'Big softie': Family members are lodging a complaint with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council

Over the next two hours Lennox was seen running through neighbouring streets, prompting residents to report a 'big dog' was on the loose.

Lennox was eventually cornered by police and the council's dog warden Ian Lewis, who said the animal was 'having a go' at anything that went past him.

A spokesman for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council said they sympathised with Lennox's owners but they had acted in the interest of public safety.

He said: 'We were left with no alternative given the actual and reported behaviour of the dog.

'The police received a complaint that a vicious dog had attempted to attack a resident, whilst we received several complaints, including one from a resident who said the dog had bared its teeth at them.

'The police and dog warden worked together to capture the dog but it continued to behave in an extremely aggressive manner.

'The view of the police, the dog warden and the vet, who put the dog down, was that the dog was dangerous and that there was a real risk that it could attack a member of the public.

'Had that happened the council would be rightly criticised for failing to do its duty.'

He said the vet's records showed that Lennox had to be muzzled during previous visits there for treatment.

The spokesman added: 'We wish to express our regret for the undoubted hurt felt by the family, but in this case we had a wider duty to protect the public.'

A spokesman for Dorset Police confirmed they had received a report of a burglary that took place between 1pm and 4pm on Saturday in Aragon Close, Weymouth.



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