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Hank's owners to close campaigning Facebook page over stress

It's beyond stressful, say couple after council fight

By Laura Abernethy

Published 16/08/2016

Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows celebrating the return of Hank earlier this month
Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows celebrating the return of Hank earlier this month

The Save Hank campaign page will be closed after the dog's owners said that it had become "beyond stressful".

Hank was seized from his east Belfast home in July by Belfast City Council because he "looks like a pit bull".

The campaign for his release received attention from across the world and made headlines in the US newspaper the Washington Post and French publication Le Monde.

His owners, Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows, set up a Facebook page to raise awareness of the case and it had received almost 90,000 likes.

More: Save Hank: Power of social media was life-saver for seized dog... but now campaigning pair are feeling hounded

But yesterday, they said the page was being closed because they felt they must now "do what is right for all three of us". Since Hank's release, they said he was struggling to cope with the requirement to wear a muzzle when out in public and he found it difficult to be out with other dogs.

Leonard and Joanne said that a man had been in contact with them who claimed that he had been attacked by the dog on Sunday.

In a post on Facebook, they said: "You put your face directly in front of Hank and put your hand on his muzzle. Hank is not reacting well to his muzzle nor the entire ordeal and honestly neither are we.

"Can we ask that people allow Hank to settle back in and respect that he is a dog, not a toy. The vast majority of people have been respectful, please do not take this is as a slight against anyone.

"Incidents like this will force the council to seize Hank and put him down."

They later added that due to these recent developments, they would be closing the page.

They said: "We owe each and every one of you a great debt but the last week and a half has been beyond stressful."

They had arranged a rally at Stormont to protest against Northern Ireland's controversial dangerous dog laws, but the protest has now been postponed twice.

It was due to be held at Stormont on August 7 but it was then postponed until August 14. It was then postponed again with a date to be announced.

Hank's owners said they would now encourage all their supporters to back a local anti-Breed Specific Legislation movement, rather than concentrate on the Save Hank campaign.

They added: "Joanne and I were never spokesmen for the anti-BSL movement, we just played a very small part; many, many people have worked tirelessly for years to draw attention to BSL and they generally go unappreciated.

"Please now give them your support, seek out a local Anti BSL group and join their ranks."

More than £19,000 was donated to help pay for legal fees to secure Hank's release and the couple have said that they are now working to donate the money to good causes.

"None of Hank's donations will go to us", they said, "It will all be used for good causes."

They said they would release details of these causes over the the next couple of weeks.

Belfast Telegraph

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