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Hank becomes a newshound as he captures Tele team's hearts

Waggy dog story has happy ending after pet reunited with owners

By David Young

Published 06/08/2016

Hank the dog with owner Joanne Meadows (right) visits the Belfast Telegraph office to thank staff and Editor Gail Walker for assisting in his rescue
Hank the dog with owner Joanne Meadows (right) visits the Belfast Telegraph office to thank staff and Editor Gail Walker for assisting in his rescue

Hank said thanks to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday when the reprieved death row dog brought his owner Joanne Meadows to meet the media team who'd backed his fight for freedom.

And what a newshound he turned out to be.

The playful two-year-old pooch won the hearts of the newsroom as he wagged his tail and rolled around on the floor, the very picture of doggy joy.

Belfast Telegraph Editor Gail Walker said: "It's great to see Hank back where he belongs, with his owners. And we're delighted that he brought his human Joanne in to see us .

"He's certainly one of the most popular visitors to the newsroom in years. Hank really made our day."

As Tele journalists fussed over happy Hank, owner Joanne spoke of the dog's 20 days in Belfast City Council custody, saying "We're just glad it's over."

Newsroom Hank fans queued up to meet their hero - and shake his paw.

"He's beautiful", said dog lover and business journalist Yvette Shapiro. "His coat's in lovely condition. He's almost as handsome as my English bull terrier."

Colleague Rachel Martin agreed, saying: "He's very chilled, really friendly - and so laid-back."

Owner Joanne is still a little shocked at how quickly momentum built in the Save Hank campaign.

Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home.
(Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Hank the dog visited the Belfast Telegraph offices on Friday to say thanks to helping in the successful campaign to bring him home. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

"We just shared the news about Hank being taken with our friends on social media - and the next minute it was as if millions of people had seen the post.

"But it's great. It just shows you what social media can do.

"A big campaign was never our intention, but when you have massive support you can't just leave it there. You can't just go 'I've got Hank back, thanks' and that's it."

As she spoke, Hank, basking in the media spotlight, enthusiastically posing for pictures and licking our photographer Kevin Scott's face despite wearing a court-mandated muzzle.

Joanne paid tribute to the way Hank was looked after while in Belfast City Council custody.

"He has been really well looked after," she said. "But we're really happy to have him back.

"I know the dog wardens are just doing their job."

Next up for the hero dog and his owners is a big 'thank you' rally to thank everyone who backed Hank.

The rally is set to take place at Stormont on Sunday, August 14 at 1pm. Joanne revealed that senior political figures were coming on board to back changes to the law that permitted Hank to be seized in a joint PSNI/Belfast City Council raid that outraged dog lovers in the UK, Europe and beyond.

But for the moment, Hank looks very happy to be home - though he is enjoying the limelight, according to owner Joanne

"He's a star now," she laughed.

"He'll be turning into a diva if we're not careful!"

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