Belfast Telegraph

Save Hank owners reveal they are no longer a couple as they outline where funds raised are going

By Claire Williamson

Save Hank owners have revealed they are not a couple as they outlined how they plan to spend the money raised in the campaign to get their dog back from death row.

Hank the dog's seizure from his east Belfast home by Belfast City Council dog wardens on suspicion of being a pit bull-breed type sparked a global campaign.

The case reopened the debate on Northern Ireland's breed-specific legislation, which has been condemned as "flawed and archaic".

As Hank's story made headlines around the world, he gained celebrity support in the form of X Factor host Dermot O'Leary, boxer Carl Frampton and celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell.

An assessment concluded that although Hank was "a pit bull terrier-type" breed, the pet could be placed on the council's exemption register, thus saving it from death.

As part of his release conditions, Hank is kept on a lead and muzzled in public.

His owners Joanne Meadows and Leonard Collins have remained in the spotlight following his return and have a huge social media presence as thousands of people liked their Save Hank Facebook page.

As part of the campaign they raised almost £19,000 to help pay for legal costs.

Now that the dog has been freed there had been great interest as to where the funds would go.

Leonard posting on his Facebook page first revealed that while they would be "forever indebted" to the media for getting Hank back - he felt he and Joanne had been misrepresented as still being a couple.

Leonard posted: "We separated last year and remained friends. Hank was both of ours and neither of use wanted to deprive the other of spending time with him.

"I kept from mentioning this on the ‪#‎savehank‬ page as I didn't want to invite that sort of scrutiny into our private lives.

"We have both moved on and are seeing other people, so please don't be surprised if you see pics of this online."

They have also revealed a breakdown of what they are planning to spend the funds on when they are released by the page.

They have decided to give the money to individuals fighting to get their dogs returned, rather than a charity.

They said the money would be spent as follows:

  • £2701 would be spent on solicitors fees and they expect that this could increase.
  • An unknown amount will be spend on vets bills and training for Hank. They expect this to cost over £1000.
  • A donation of between £2000 and £3000 to a campaign to save Coco.
  • A donation of around £3000 for a campaign to save Zane.
  • A donation of around £3000 for the campaign to save Blitz.

Leonard said: "The general consensus from the community is to give these funds to individuals fighting to get their dogs returned rather than a charity.

"These donations will be as soon as we have access to the funds and the actual amount will depend on what their needs are at that time. We are committed to making sure these families hit their targets.

"More donations, to other families fighting BSL will follow shortly."

He added:  "In case I haven't made it clear enough - we still have no access to Hank's funds and all excess monies are being donated."

A rally organised by Hank's owners against Northern Ireland's controversial dog laws has been postponed until further notice due to the large numbers expected.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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