A Northern Ireland dog who was taken away from his family because he “looks like a Pit Bull” is poised to go home after an assessment determined that he is not dangerous.
The Belfast City Council determined that the dog, named Hank, is a “Pit Bull Terrier type” of dog, which is banned in the country, the Belfast Telegraph reports. However, the council concluded that his temperament does not pose a risk to the public.
A court hearing is scheduled for next week to make it all official, but “effectively this means that Hank will almost certainly come home on Tuesday,” his owners posted on Facebook.
We have received word from BCC that their assessment has concluded. They have deemed Hank to be “Pitbull Terrier type”…
The 23-month old dog was seized from his home on July 14, 2016, after concerned members of the public complained to the city council that he looked like a Pit Bull. Hank’s owners, Joanne Meadows and Leonard Collins, put up a fight to keep their dog, who reportedly has been a part of the family since he was 2 months old. They set up a Facebook page, Save Hank, in an effort to raise awareness about their dog’s plight and to start a discussion about breed-specific legislation. The couple also launched an online petition on Change.org, which has garnered more than 284,000 supporters as of July 28.
Under The Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983, both a dog’s characteristics and behavior must be assessed to determine whether it is a banned breed, and, if so, whether the dog poses a danger to the public. If the dog is determined not to be a banned breed, it is returned. If it is determined to be a banned breed, but is deemed not dangerous, it may, with court approval and conditions, be returned. If the dog is determined to be a banned breed and is deemed dangerous, the court decides whether the dog should be euthanized.
“[Hank] has displayed some behavioral issues but, having worked with him since he was taken into our possession, and, in light of the expert opinion received, we believe these can be addressed through additional training,” the Belfast City Council said in a statement to the Telegraph.
“Subject to this court approval, and with the agreement of his owners, Hank will be the 12th dog to be placed on the exemption register and returned to their owner by the council since 2011, out of 13 dogs assessed to be pit bull types during this period.
“All 12 have had conditions attached to their return which are aimed at addressing issues of public safety.”