Hank The Dog To Be Returned To Owners

Hank the dog can finally be returned to his owners.

Belfast City Council seized the dog following reports it was a suspected pit-bull.

However, following an assessment it has been recommended the dog is placed on the council's exemption register.

In a statement the council said: "Belfast City Council can confirm that an assessment carried out on Hank the dog has recommended that he is placed on the council's exemption register, under the Dogs (NI) Order 1983. 
This means that, although assessed by an appropriate expert to be a pitbull terrier type, he can be returned to his owners, following court approval with conditions, most of which are mandatory under this legislation."

Alliance MLA Naomi Long said she is "delighted" with the news and is calling for laws surrounding dangerous dogs to be changed in Northern Ireland.
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She said: "As a dog owner, I know only too well the suffering Hank's owners Leonard and Joanne must have gone through since he was taken from them. I have been in contact with them and know they will be absolutely delighted by this news.

"I have long argued for the need to change breed-specific legislation and indeed remove it entirely if possible. The focus should be on the deed, not the breed. It is not acceptable that a dog who has now been found to be no threat to the public could have potentially been put to sleep because of an outdated law.

"I will be writing to the Minister to encourage her to look at this issue as soon as possible so we can prevent similar situations from developing in future."

DUP MP Gavin Robinson said he is pleased at the positive outcome.

Mr Robinson said: "I know how stressful it has been for the family over the last number of weeks, but it appears the Council have been working through the necessary systems as quickly as possible."

Hank is the 12th dog admitted to the exemption scheme by the council.


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