Three weeks prior, a team conducted a raid on Leonard Collins’ home and seized Hank, his adorable pooch that “looked like a pitbull.” In Northern Ireland, it is illegal to own a pitbull, and although members of the community had mentioned that Hank resembled one, they knew that he was just an odd mix of Labrador retriever and Staffordshire bull terrier. Under the ban, the law vaguely includes Hank, but just barely.
When the police – some in “riot gear” were spotted by neighbors – raided the home, understandably, Hank reacted poorly. His home was being invaded by strangers, after all. The police deemed his reaction as “dangerous to the public” and left a note on Collins’ door to let him know that his dog would not be returned under the ban.For lack of a better explanation, the public went nuts.
They immediately spread the story online and quickly raised $25,000 for Hank’s defense to cover the legal battle, and secured 285,000 signatures to “Save Hank.” The story went viral, and a spotlight was put on the ban – why would it target the dogs and not the owners for behavioral problems? – and it turned out that many people were unhappy with the ban in the first place.
After digging further, Hank’s defense team uncovered that since the ban in 2011, 12 out of 13 “dangerous dogs” had been confiscated and returned to their owners after an assessment by an expert. The 13th was put down after a 2 year legal battle with his owners and countless counts of opposition from local politicians.
It seems that Hank’s three week ordeal is paving the way for change, and the ban may be repealed in the future. We’ll just have to wait and see…but until then, Hank is back at home with his family, and that’s the happy ending that we all hoped for.
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