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Hank saved: Stormont rally date postponed again

By Adrian Rutherford and Claire Williamson

A rally organised against Northern Ireland's controversial dog laws - with Hank expected to make a guest appearance has been further delayed.

The case has reopened the debate on our breed-specific legislation, which has been condemned as "flawed and archaic". There was controversy in 2012 when another family pet, Lennox, was put down by Belfast City Council after being deemed a banned breed and dangerous.

Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows had originally organised a protest at Stormont at 1pm for Sunday August 7 to raise awareness of the issue.

They then postponed this to Sunday August 14 at 1pm "due to time constraints and the availability of invited guests".

However it has now been postponed with a date to be announced.

On their Save Hank Facebook page they said it was due to the number of people hoping to attend.

It said: "Our plans for a meeting at Stormont this Sunday have sadly had to be changed.

"So we will be going for third time lucky. The reason is pretty straight forward.

"The number of people hoping to travel to Stormont to support a change in the breed specific legislation is vast and we need to get organised to ensure every person and every dog will be safe and properly catered for on the day.

"We do have support from the Stormont estate management for the event, but we have a few details to work out first.

"Joanne and I know you will understand, because we all want to do this once and do it right so showing we can gather in big numbers in a proper fashion and still be safe and responsible is important.

"So thanks for your patience - we will be back with news asap and we hope to see you all soon."

In addition and along with Green Party councillor Ross Green, the owners have launched a petition calling for the end to Breed Specific Legislation.

The petition reads: "Leading animal behaviour experts, vets and animal welfare organisations such as the Dogs Trust and RSPCA want to see an end to breed specific legislation and better laws to deal with irresponsible owners.

"For once Northern Ireland needs to lead the way. Stormont has the power to change this law to make sure that no other dog is seized simply because of its appearance.

"This petition is calling Minister for Agriculture and Environment and the Northern Ireland Assembly to take action to hold all owners equally responsible for the actions of their dogs and to seek and alternative to breed specific legislation."

Hank's story has featured in the Washington Post and French newspaper Le Monde.

Among those to pledge their support were X Factor host Dermot O'Leary, boxer Carl Frampton and celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell.

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