Over 65,000 people sign petition to save Belfast dog Hank

Hank the dog has been seized to determine whether he is a banned breed. Credit: Family photo

Over 65,000 people have signed an online petition to save an east Belfast dog from destruction.

Hank was seized by Belfast City Council officials and police officers last Thursday after it was reported to the council that the dog was a pitbull, a breed banned in NI.

Leonard Collins, Hank’s owner, was told at the time he got the pup that Hank was a Staffie-Labrador cross and said that other dog experts had confirmed this to him.

The seizure of Hank was carried out while Leonard and partner Joanne was out of the house.

“The day that it happened, I was devastated,” he said.

“I had no idea what was going on, why it had happened.

“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.

“That’s kept us so busy that I don’t think we’re actually processing what’s actually happening.”

A separate attempt to raise money for legal costs surrounding any potential court case has also raised almost £11k.

Leonard has not been allowed to see his dog since it was seized. Credit: Family photo

Belfast City Council issued a statement explaining the next steps in the process.

"The dog has been taken in for assessment,” a statement from the council read.

"A determination is made based on the animal's physical characteristics and temperament.

In the meantime, Leonard has revealed he will not be allowed to see his pet until the council have carried out their tests.

Leonard said that the seizure of Hank has affected him deeply.

“When I put my head on the pillow at night, I just think about where he is and what’s happening to him,” he said.

Hank with Leonard's partner Joanne. Credit: Family photo

“I’m not sleeping because of it, I’m not really eating because of it, and it’s terrifying to think of what could happen.”

The process for testing Hank could take several months, with a specialist having to carry out the examinations.

For Leonard, the battle continues to bring his beloved dog home.