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Hank saved: Stormont rally date postponed again

By Adrian Rutherford and Claire Williamson

Published 10/08/2016

Joanne Meadows with pet Hank
Joanne Meadows with pet Hank
Owners Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows yesterday
Owner Leonard Collins with pet Hank
Hank the dog with owner Joanne Meadows
Leonard Collins with his dog Hank, who was seized by authorities amid claims that he looks like a pit bull (Leonard Collins/Joanne Meadows/PA)
Hank with his owner Joanne Meadows
Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows at home after their dog Hank was seized by Belfast City Council
Hank as a pup

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.

Jillian Bearns, Larne with Dixie & Dexter say welcome home to Hank
Jillian Bearns, Larne with Dixie & Dexter say welcome home to Hank
Sofia welcomes Hank from Chile. Sender: Paola Chavez Pacheco
From Marley & Lyka in the hills of Donegal
Happy for Hank from Lesley Beak in Canada.
Welcome home Hank from Dora, Alfie and Molly. Pic: Marcella Mervyn
Mia McKinty and her friends from Bangor send a warm word of welcome home to Hank and his family
Welcome home Hank from Suki and Simba. Pic: Nic Cullen Belfast.
A big welcome home from Mr Darcy & his friend Mao the cat in Dublin.
Welcome home Hank from Troy who sleeps most of the day but is still very happy that Hank has been released. From Janet and Noah
"Welcome home Hank! So glad the right thing was done! Bruce, my 14-week-old boxer is glad too" from Kerry Campbell Omagh, Co Tyrone
Luca Burns from Cork says welcome home Hank
Jack and Poppy and their owner Jane Bailie from Bangor wish Hank all the best for the future
Ollie and his owner Pat Canning from Belfast tell Hank that he's welcome to their home anytime
Riley and his owner Helen Bindley from Larne wish Hank every happiness in the future
Paddy and Reilly, Irish Water spaniels, from Co Down, hope that Hank will be home soon
Jess and Jodi Moore-Skelly welcome Hank back home
Inca the poodle of the McClatchey family welcomes Hank back home
Monte, Derry and Tripoli from Seattle and cared for by Dave Geisert are are anxiously looking for Hank to get back home
Renata Paluch from Hull are delighted that Hank is getting to go home
Macey and Bella Johnston send Hank their love
It's a woof woof from Bobby Beattie
Here's Toby the Springer Spaniel from Ballymena
Pretty Tilly McKevitt from Portadown is delighted that Hank is going back to his family
Tillie and Henry Wellstead say welcome home to Hank and back to the cuddles that you deserve
'Welcome home Hank from a fellow Bully'
Pluto Beveridge really is happy that Hank is getting home
Lucy (jack russell) and Reggie (rottweiler) send Hank their love from Luton
Poodle Freya and her ownerJenella are delighted Hank is coming home
Tazz is delighted Hank is getting home
Husky pack Duke, Sky, Max, Arya, DJ and Roman welcome Hank home
Frank and his family in Belfast are delighted that Hank will be released
Even cats are delighted that Hank the dog is coming home
Pippa and her humans Michelle, Mark, Matthew and Chloe from Magheralin Co.Armagh are so happy Hank's life has been saved.
Welcome home Hank!! ????from Karen and Alfie Castlederg xo
Rescue dogs Rudy and Lexie from Armagh want to welcome Hank home. Owner Paula said: "they both came from council pounds so they know how it feels to be locked up".
Welcome home Hank lots of love Rebel and Bubba from Lisburn
Welcome home Hank from Karen Connor & Amy the pom from Bangor, Co Down
Welcome home Hank. Paws and licks from Cotto, Ballymena.
Tax Button and Poppy say #hanksaved
Welcome home Hank
Welcome home Hank
Hughie from Belfast says welcome home Hank - you deserve a huge pat on the back and lots of doggy treats after all you've been through #braveboy
Welcome home Hank from Dexter!
Lynn Paul, from Ballysillan in Belfast with Max.
From Pauline Sleator
My dog Fern and I would love to wish Hank a happy homecoming! We are in New York City, where many happy pit bulls live without being banned. Fern is a certified therapy dog that volunteers with senior citizens:Jillian Hayes.
Welcome home Hank from Sophie the Staffie and Peter Knight, Ballyholme, Bangor.
Gina Love and her pet Goober from the Shetland Islands welcomed Hank home.
Here's looking at you kid! Welcome home Hank from Jeannie and Sherrie. Sent in by Rosemary Craig.
Kelly Anne Webster says: "We havnt stopped thinking about Hank an Pixie wants to say 'Welcome Home'" You will never go through this again."
Owners Leanne and Stevie with Rafa 7 and Harley 6 from Bangor
Mel McConnell from Newtownards: "This is Suki my 9 yr old jr terrier welcoming Hank home"
From Allison McKenna, Belfast
Quinton - from Anya Connor in Belfast.
Welcome home Hank from Coops.
Welcome home Hank from Reggie the Jack Russell and his friend Pebbles the tabby cat in Coleraine.
Welcome home Hank from Max. Pic: Nicola Totten
Diesel, Logan and Kaiser say welcome home Hank.
Welcome home Hank from Meg. Pic: Ann Marie Smith.
Welcome home Hank from Niko, Nhala and Storm. Pic: Karen Dando
Welcome Home Hank from Poppy in Newtownabbey. Pic: Lyndsey Minford
Welcome home Hank from Phoebe and Ruby. Pic: Erin McAllister
Welcome home Hank from Pippin.
Maddie in Ards says Welcome home Hank. Pic: Amy Black
Welcome home Hank from Tiny in Dungannon.
Hugo and Sully from north Belfast say Welcome home Hank. Pic: Leah Davis
Walt from Belfast says Welcome Home Hank. Pic: Russell Adams
Walt from Belfast says Welcome Home Hank. Pic: Russell Adams
Welcome Home Hank. Pic: Anna Salmon
Pixie and Benjie, from owner Laura mcmahon in Belfast
Troy and Baby Girl, from east Belfast from owner Sharon Brown.
Roxi from Bangor from owner William Bradford.
Claude from Belfast, owner Anya Connor.
Boxer Cara and Jackhuahua Pepsi welcome Hank home from Paula Beattie and family, Carryduff.
Welcome home Hank!! Such fabulous news! Lots of love from Manni and family from Liz Clark.
Cooper from Newtownards.

"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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