Support has poured in across the globe for Hank the dog, a beloved two year old family pet who was seized from his home by Belfast City Council on July 14.
The #SaveHank campaign was trending across social media last night after Leonard Collins and partner Joanne Meadows appeared on This Morning to bring nationwide attention to their cause.
Viewers were left outraged for the adorable pup, who isn’t even two years of age.
The couple were forced to launch a social media campaign after feeling helpless when their much-adored four legged friend, pictured, was seized from their home in east Belfast when they were out of the house.
It happened after it was reported to the council that the dog was a pitbull, a breed banned in NI.
The family have had Hank, for nearly two years since he was a very young puppy.
Indeed, aged just nearly two years old, adorable Hank is still technically a pup.
Mr Collins, who is a computer science student at Ulster University, returned home from his placement to find Hank gone. He told BBC NI: “My dad walks Hank during the day when I’m at my placement and he called to tell me that he wasn’t there.
“I rushed straight home to find the warrant on my door and Hank gone.
“A neighbour told me that eight police officers and four dog wardens showed up to take Hank away.
“I can’t fathom why anyone would report him. He lazes about for 90% of the day and wants to play the other 10%.
“He is a very playful dog and is part of our family, my nieces and nephews adore him and my dad loves walking him.
“He’s extremely affectionate, we’ve never had any issues with aggression.”
Mr Collins, a responsible dog owner, said he believes Hank, who is neutered, insured and micro-chipped, is a cross between a Staffordshire bull terrier and a Labrador.
He claimed he and his family are not allowed to know where Hank is being held, nor are they allowed to visit him.
He also said that the dog warden told him there were no problems or complaints about the dog’s behaviour – only how he looks.
Twitter was alight with furious and upset supporters of Hank, who agreed that such decisions should be based on the dog’s behaviour – not on its appearance. And once again Belfast has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
— Sally Jordan (@sasiejane) July 21, 2016
Only in NI would we allow murderers to walk free, put some in government and kill a harmless dog because of how he looks. #savehank
— Jackie Johnston (@TheRealJackieJ) July 19, 2016
The Facebook page set up for Hank had gained 52K Likes on Friday, whilst their online petition to save Hank from destruction had gained over 117K supporters from across the world – just days after it was launched.
Meanwhile, the couple have set up a Crowd Funding Page to fund legal costs to fight Hank’s case, with any surplus going to charity, and all legal costs due to be shared online due to the couple’s wish for transparency for all those wishing to donate.
Hank’s story has been widely documented throughout local media, with local news outlets, radio and TV – whilst Victoria Stilwell, one of the world’s most recognised and respected dog trainers who stars in the show “It’s Me or the Dog” has vowed to do everything in her power to help Hank’s case. Victoria wrote on her Facebook account:
“Belfast are at it again. Four years ago the council euthanised Lenox, a beloved family pet, after keeping him incarcerated for two years and despite overwhelming evidence by numerous experts that he did not pose a danger to the public.
“I became involved and I can tell you from personal experience, that Belfast City Council behaved in an appalling manner. The world is watching again as another innocent dog is taken and again I will not be silent.”
In a statement to the BBC, Belfast City Council confirmed that the dog, who is called Hank, had been taken.
It said the council had a “statutory duty” to enforce the Dogs (NI) Order 1983.
According to the statement, Hank is being assessed and a council spokesperson said it would be “inappropriate” to comment further.
Source: BBC NI & Save Hank on Facebook.