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We cried because we feared we'd never see our best friend again

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 03/08/2016

Hank's owners have told how they broke down in tears after fearing they would never see their "best friend" again.

Leonard Collins said that he and Joanne Meadows endured almost three weeks of panic and worry over the fate of their beloved dog.

In an article for today's Belfast Telegraph, Mr Collins recalled the moment he realised their pet had been seized because it was reported to authorities as looking like a banned breed.

He wrote: "I was stunned to hear the reports from a neighbour and to find a warrant stuck to the front door which explained how Belfast City Council had the legal right to come into my home and remove my best friend."

Mr Collins told how he was asked if he wanted to sign Hank over, which would probably result in the dog's destruction.

"We cried," he said. "Joanne and I held each other for comfort, lost in our fears and unanswerable questions. We believed we would never see him again. The finality of it all seemed so cruel."

Leonard described how a simple plea for help had turned into a worldwide campaign, backed by celebrities including Dermot O'Leary and Carl Frampton.

"Out of sheer frustration we posted a picture of Hank along with a few words expressing our dismay to Facebook," he added.

"This was shared a couple of thousand times by the time we went to bed but, at that point, all I could think about was that I was going to bed without Hank. Within 48 hours it seemed like half the country knew of Hank's plight.

"The support was overwhelming and much-needed."

Leonard described how he and Joanne endured sleepless nights and how the council refused to speak to him.

Finally, last Thursday, the pair were told Hank was "no danger to the public".

"The relief was palpable, even more so as it was so unexpected," Mr Collins said.

Belfast Telegraph

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