Belfast Telegraph

Hank the dog

The top ten news stories of 2016

By Sophie Inge

In July a dog named Hank was seized by Belfast City Council after a member of the public complained that he "looked like a pit bull".

The beloved pet was confiscated under the Dogs (NI) Order 1983 by eight police officers and four dog wardens while owners Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows (right) were at work.

The pair battled for weeks to get their pet returned and a petition calling for his release was signed by almost 300,000 people. Well-wishers also raised thousands of pounds to help pay legal costs.

In August a judge ruled that Hank would be allowed to return home after being placed on the council's exemption register, sparing him from death.

As part of his release conditions, it was ruled Hank must be kept on a lead with a muzzle and must be assessed by a behaviourist. His owners also agreed to adhere to any recommended training to control his exuberant nature.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Collins' barrister Mark O'Connor said the owners wished to thank the public for their support.

"They are delighted this has been resolved in this way and that Hank can be returned home," he added.

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