Family’s Dog Taken Away Because He Looks Like A Pit Bull

Hank's owners have launched an online effort to get their dog back and raise awareness about breed specific legislation.

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Joanne Meadows and Hank during happier times. Via Save Hank/Facebook
John Virata

Hank is a dog who lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His best friends are Joanne Meadows and Leonard Collins. Hank had been by their side since he was just 2 months old. But that all changed when someone called the local council and complained that Hank looked like a Pit Bull, according to Meadows’ Facebook page. 

Pit Bulls are banned in the country under the The Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983. And on July 14, 2016, eight police officers and four dog wardens came and took Hank away, Meadows wrote on her Facebook page. Now Meadows and Collins, who are not allowed to see Hank, are fighting for their dog’s right to live with his family.

One of Hank’s favorite things to do.Via Save Hank/Facebook

One of Hank’s favorite things to do.Via Save Hank/Facebook

Meadows and Collins 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, and how it affects those with dogs that are subject to these types of laws.

“We hope to bring nationwide attention to Hank’s case,” Collins wrote on the Save Hank Facebook page. “I had a meeting with the council today who, once again, explained that it is in Hank’s best interest that we do not see him. Instead of being able to visit I gave them some toys and a worn T-shirt of mine. The council and the Northern Ireland executive need to know that we believe BSL (breed-specific legislation) is unjust.”

Hank when he was just a wee pup. Via Save Hank/Facebook

Hank when he was just a wee pup. Via Save Hank/Facebook

The couple also launched an online petition on which has garnered more than 92,000 supporters as of July 20.

“On the 14th July 2016, Hank was taken from my home by eight police officers and four dog wardens,” Collins wrote on “He has been condemned to die because he looks like a pitbull. Our only legal recourse is to fight this in the courts. We will do anything to save Hank, he is a much loved part of our family. He is more than a pet. The best chance at returning Hank to his home is to prove that he is not dangerous, this is costly due to the need for professional opinion. This petition is to raise awareness of Hank and other dogs like him facing death due to Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).”

ITV News reports that, according to the Belfast City Council, Hank was taken for assessment, and if Hank is determined to be a banned breed of dog and is judged to “present a danger to the public, the matter is referred to the courts to decide whether a destruction order should be issued.”

The day Hank was seized from his home, Collins was devastated. 

“I had no idea what was going on, why it had happened,” he told ITV News. “It wasn’t until the social media thing started going and people started reaching out to us that we started to feel a bit more positive.”

The campaign to save Hank has gone global as supporters from all around the world left notes of support on the Save Hank Facebook page. We here at hope that Hank and his family enjoy a positive outcome as well.

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