Owners bewildered after dog taken
A COUNCIL seized an ‘affectionate’ young dog from his home for ‘looking like a pit bull’, his owners claim.
Hank has been taken by Belfast City Council which said it had a statutory duty to enforce the Dogs (NI) Order 1983.
Hank belongs to Leonard Collins and Joanne Meadows who have had him for nearly two years, since he was a puppy. Last week Mr Collins returned home to find his dog had been removed from the house. A warrant was pinned to his front door saying he had been taken into the council’s care under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
“My dad walks Hank during the day and he called to tell me that he wasn’t there,” Mr Collins said. “A neighbour told me eight police officers and four dog wardens showed up to take Hank away.
“I can’t fathom why anyone would report him. He lazes about for 90 per cent of the day and wants to play the other ten per cent. He’s a very playful dog and is part of our family; my nieces and nephews adore him and my dad loves walking him.
“He’s extremely affectionate, we’ve never had any issues with aggression.”
Mr Collins said he believes Hank, who is neutered, insured and microchipped, is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier/Labrador cross. He and his family have not been told where Hank is being held, nor are they allowed to visit him.
He also said that the dog warden told him there were no problems or complaints about the dog’s behaviour – only how he looks.
“When I spoke to the dog warden they said we had two options: either sign him over, which would most likely result in him being put down, or to fight the order through the courts”, Mr Collins said.
“Hank has a skin condition and he doesn’t have his medication with him; we don’t know where he is or what’s happening to him.”
Mr Collins said he hopes that breed-specific laws in Northern Ireland will be changed so dogs can be judged on their behaviour.
“A dog can be deemed a pit bull because of its measurements, but that doesn’t mean it is one,” he said.
Under Article 25(a) of the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 some types of dog, including pit bulls, are deemed inherently dangerous and can be destroyed.
Hank is being assessed, a council spokesman said.
“We would like to assure those who have expressed concern about the dog’s welfare that he is being well looked after and his needs are being met”, she added.