Belfast, Ireland – Alexandra “Sandie” Lightfoot, former dog warden for the Belfast City Council, is currently one of the least popular people in the world. As one of the two people whose negative opinions held sway over the Council and courts in the case of Lennox, the dog put down recently under Ireland’s Dangerous Dogs Act, many consider Lightfoot to be a persona non grata. Millions of people who have followed this case feel that Lightfoot provided opinions about Lennox that were unqualified at best, and perjurious at worst.
Lightfoot’s most controversial statements were made under oath, when she claimed that Lennox was “one of the most aggressive” dogs she had ever come into contact with and that she was frightened to be around him; people, other than judges hearing the case, found these statements hard to believe after a video of Lightfoot with Lennox was provided to the public. The video was taken when the family’s expert, David Ryans, evaluated Lennox with Lightfoot in the room. Lightfoot is clearly shown interacting with the dog she claims is aggressive and frightening. She holds his leash while Ryans tries to prod the dog into aggressive behavior and occasionally pats Lennox on the head. For the entirety of the video, she is obviously completely relaxed, remaining seated in the dog’s presence while the tests are conducted. Still photos of this session later surface depicting Lennox licking Lightfoot’s face and Lightfoot scratching his head. Nowhere in the videos or photos does she appear to be frightened or intimidated by Lennox. The contradictions between her actions on video and her statements to the court make her testimony unreliable and her qualifications to evaluate dogs questionable.
But it seems that the City of Belfast, at least, considers her work not only capable, but laudatory. According to the minutes of the proceedings of a Meeting of the Environment and Borough Services Committee of the Antrim Borough Council held on April, 19 2012, Lightfoot was recommended, along with four others, for placement as an “Animal Welfare Officer” in Antrim, a city near Belfast. According to research done by Elizabeth Batt of the Digital Journal, Lightfoot’s new position could easily be considered a promotion, given that qualifications for the new job are more stringent, the pay is higher, and opportunities for advancement are more available than at her previous job for the Belfast City Council.
It also could be construed that Belfast considered Lightfoot a liability, and took an opportunity to be rid of her. As is the case for so much of the story of Lennox and the Belfast City Council, the Council’s motives may never be known.