In effort to save Belfast dog, supporters light up Facebook, Twitter
Lennox fans use social networks to raise global support for the dog
Even as the dog at the center of a global animal rights battle was put to death on Wednesday, social networks
proved to be a massive weapon for protestors.
Lennox, a seven-year-old black dog who lived with his family in Belfast, Ireland,
became the center of a hailstorm of media attention and worldwide protests after dog wardens seized him because
they considered him a pit bull type of dog and, thus, a public danger. Pit bulls are banned under the U.K.'s
Dangerous Dog act.
The dog's owners say Lennox was a mix of American bulldog and Labrador, but Belfast dog wardens called him a
"possible pitbull type."
The dog, first taken from his owners in 2010, was put down today after numerous court battles and great public
And while the dog's owner, Caroline Barnes, lost the battle to save her dog, she was far from alone in her
protests. Lennox's supporters took to social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, to put out pleas for people to
join them in their appeals to keep Lennox alive and relocate him outside of the area.
The dog's saga spread far, lighting up social networks.
Many people filled their own personal Facebook posts with pleas for their online friends to sign petitions and
join the protest. Others took to Twitter to vent their frustrations and ask for support.
"Destroying a dog that had no history of aggression is folly and shames society," tweeted @DUPleader.
And @AliciaLaraLA tweeted: "Always wanted to go to Ireland but after all this with #LENNOX, Belfast is one place
I'll never be visiting..."
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with CurrentAnalysis, noted that social networks not only served to build protests to
try to save Lennox but gave people concerned about the situation a place to gather and share their frustrations and
"Services like Twitter have grown beyond destinations to literally become communications infrastructure, the
means by which we interact with our peers, our friends, our heroes and our brands," said Shimmin. "Twitter, in
particular, has become a means by which we're able to participate in vast but short-lived communities, not just
within our limited circle of friends. When we see something on television that excites or enrages us, we turn to
Twitter, connecting with others who are sharing this same experience."
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said people are increasingly quick to turn to their
favorite social networks whenever they're upset or excited about something.
"Social networks have now become deeply intertwined in the fabric of life," he added. "It's to the point where
if someone has some issue or problem they want to vent about, they don't call their friends or neighbors, they
immediately run to Facebook or Twitter."
In a similar vein, users took to social networks in March to vent anger at conservative
commentator Rush Limbaugh after he verbally bashed a Georgetown University law student for supporting birth
In part because of social pressure, Limbaugh's show at the time lost more than 20 advertisers, including
Allstate Insurance, AOL, Citrix, Quicken Loans and Sears.
The month before that, a chorus of outrage on Twitter and Facebook helped to push officials at the Susan G.
Komen For the Cure to rescind
their controversial decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood programs.
"The immediacy and global reach of these social sites has indeed driven appreciable social change, be it raising
the awareness of worthy causes or empowering the disenfranchised," said Shimmin. "Twitter and Facebook are simply
mediums for a message -- the continuing realization of the simple desire to hear and to be heard."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for
Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+
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