BELFAST, IRELAND — After a weeks long ordeal in which he was imprisoned by Belfast City Council for being a “Pit Bull” type dog, Hank is finally home. His face is one that’s recognized by dog lovers around the world, and his story is one that Hank’s family hopes will be the catalyst to finally eradicating the breed specific legislation in Ireland.
Hank’s owners, Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows, felt ultimate elation when they got the call that Hank had passed his behavioral assessment, and would be released back into their care. Though he’s deemed to be Pit Bull type dog, he was found not to be a risk to public safety, and therefore he would be allowed to return home. They waited with baited breath for Tuesday to come, counted down the sleeps, and were showered with relief that they won this battle to save Hank’s life.
Hank’s only crime is his looks. It’s certainly not his loving, playful nature or personality. He is a darling dog that’s painted with a bad brush simply because of his suspected breed. After being removed from the family home, Hank’s fate was euthanasia. He was slated to die because he looks like a Pit Bull. He was assumed to be ‘aggressive’, and because of this label he was not walked for 11 days after his seizure. Looks gave Hank a label; and that label almost meant the end of his life.
Despite their devastation, fear, and despair, Collins and Meadows put on brave faces and fought. They took to social media to share Hank’s story and garnered the support of thousands of people across the world. They were outspoken, and refused to stand down. They remained steadfast in their battle with Belfast Council. They hired counsel, remained strong in their message with the public, and refused to give up until they got Hank home. At times they were met with silence, stonewalled, in their efforts to communicate with those that had seized Hank without their knowledge, but they never gave up.
They rallied, gained the support of friends, family, and strangers from all over the world. Their voices united in one message, to #savehank. Belfast Council had no choice but to listen. Hank was assessed, he passed the test, and was released to his owners Tuesday. Despite the fact Hank passed his assessment, and poses no threat to the public, he still has to wear a muzzle at all times when he’s in public, and riding in the car. It makes Hank uncomfortable, but his family says “it’s a small price to pay” for his freedom.
Hank arrived home to hundreds of packages of toys and treats from total strangers that were following his story closely. He was spoiled and he was loved. He was walked, cuddled, snuggled and cuddled again. And though Meadows and Collins might have Hank home, they’re not giving up. They continue to speak out against breed specific legislation. They have vowed to keep fighting, and end BSL in Ireland.