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Specialist set to determine pet dog Hank's breed seized by Belfast council

By Rebecca Black

Published 20/07/2016

Hank the dog
Hank the dog
TV dog trainer Victoria Stilwell
Owners Leonard and Joanne

A specialist from England will examine whether a dog seized by Belfast City Council is a pit bull terrier.

Two-year-old Hank was seized from his family by the council last Friday.

His worried owners Joanne Meadows and Leonard Collins have launched a campaign to bring him home which has attracted 70,000 supporters in just a few days.

And their fundraising appeal has attracted more than £11,000 in donations from fellow animal lovers.

Hank is believed to have been seized following a report to the council from a member of the public.

However, Leonard and Joanne believe Hank is a staffie-labrador cross.

Belfast City Council has now arranged for an expert from England to examine Hank as they struggle to agree what breed he is.

"Next week there will be a specialist from England arriving to ascertain Hank's breed," Joanne and Leonard posted on the Save Hank Facebook page.

"We are hopeful that this will result in Hank's release but unfortunately we have very little confidence in the accuracy of these tests.

"This means we are preparing for what looks like a drawn out legal battle to fight for Hank and also to fight against the discriminatory nature of BSL (Breed-specific legislation) and attempt to force a change."

They have also spoken out about their concern for Hank's wellbeing, revealing they have been told that he is not settling into his new location well.

However the couple have been comforted by the level of support they have received by members of the public.

Among the 50,000 who have signed the petition to free him is world champion boxer Carl Frampton.

They have also received thousands of messages of support which they have said are keeping them going. "We truly appreciate everything you are doing for Hank and the anti-BSL cause," they added.

A Belfast City Council spokesman said they have a "statutory duty in relation to the enforcement of the Dogs (NI) Order 1983 as amended".

"The dog known as Hank has been taken in for assessment, and no decisions have been made in relation to his case at this stage," the council spokesman added.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further while this assessment is ongoing.

"We would like to assure those who have expressed concern about the dog's welfare that he is being well looked after and his needs are being met."

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