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We hope Hank's tale has a happy ending

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 18/07/2016

Joanne Meadows with her dog Hank
Joanne Meadows with her dog Hank

One of the most emotive subjects is the relationship between people and their pets, and this is well-illustrated in the case of a dog called Hank.

This animal, which looks like a pit bull, has been seized by Belfast City Council under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Some, but not all, pit bull terriers and dogs which resemble them have posed a danger to the public. But Hank, according to his owners Joanne Meadows and her partner Leonard Collin, who have owned him since he was a pup, is lovely and gentle.

It is not difficult to imagine their distress when they returned home to find that their pet had been taken away by council officers.

To animal lovers it can be an absolute nightmare to discover that their pet has suddenly disappeared.

To add to their distress, Joanne and Leonard say that they are not being allowed to see Hank.

No doubt the council representatives have reasons for this, perhaps feeling that they must keep the dog's location secret.

However, many people will identify with the couple's anguish, and already the story is attracting much attention around the world, partly through social media. The support for Hank is growing, and thousands of pounds to support his legal battle are flowing in.

These cases spark high emotions on both sides. We have already witnessed examples elsewhere, with disturbing images of people attacked and even killed by out-of-control dogs.

In such circumstances every council in the land must fulfil its duty under the law to investigate whether or not a dog is dangerous, and to ensure the safety of the public as far as possible.

The story of Hank has an unfortunate resonance with that of Lennox, a dog that made headlines a few years ago, so the council will be aware of the interest that can be generated.

Nevertheless, due procedure must run its course, even though it is difficult for those at the centre of such a situation.

Looking at our pictures of Joanne with her pet, it is obvious the close bond that animal and owners share, and it's understandable how devastated she and Leonard must be.

It is to be hoped that Hank will be found to pose no risk to the public, and that he can be returned as soon as possible to his clearly loving and responsible owners.

Belfast Telegraph

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