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Hank's owners tell of their pain and frustration in days since his release

By Staff Reporter

Published 12/08/2016

Hank being reunited with his owners Joanne Meadows and Leonard Collins last week
Hank being reunited with his owners Joanne Meadows and Leonard Collins last week

The owners of a dog saved from death after a massive public outcry have described their "pain, frustration and hurt" in the week since he was released.

Hank was released earlier this month almost three weeks after he was seized by Belfast City Council because he appeared to be a banned pit bull breed.

The case gained international attention and a Facebook page called Save Hank was liked over 80,000 times.

Since his release, Hank and his owners Joanne Meadows and Leonard Collins have remained in the public eye and have launched a campaign to change the Dangerous Dogs law that led to Hank being seized.

Yesterday, they said they had been overwhelmed by all that has happened in the last month.

Leonard said: "In many ways the last week has been the most difficult for us.

"We are, of course, overjoyed to have Hank back, but during the weeks he was away we were so busy fighting to have him returned.

"Now that the dust has settled a bit it feels as if all the pain, frustration and hurt has overwhelmed us both. Exhaustion has set in for Hank, Joanne and I and the added stress of the rally and its cancellation have left us all feeling drained. We have not been as active the last few days as we all just needed some rest."

They said that although they want Hank to meet all those who supported him, he is struggling to adjust to the new rules that were a condition of his release.

Hank must now wear a muzzle when out in public and have behavioural classes. The post added: "Hank is beginning to adjust to his muzzle but so far has not reacted well to other dogs.

"This is something that was never an issue before and we believe this is due to his muzzle.

"We want Hank to meet you all but it may be a while before he is ready; he needs time to adjust to being home and the muzzle and then his training starts with the wonderful Susan Finlay of Owenbeg Dog Behaviourists."

As part of the campaign, the family raised almost £19,000 to help pay for legal costs and said that now that he has been released, they said they will donate the money to "worthy causes".

A protest at Stormont against Northern Ireland's controversial dog laws has now been postponed, with a date to be announced.

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