Hank -- a dog from Belfast, Northern Ireland -- was seized and taken away from his family because he was believed to be a banned breed. Pet lovers around the world united to support Hank, signing a petition to bring him home. After three long weeks away from his loved ones, Hank was finally returned, The Belfast Telegraph reports.
Although Hank didn't have a history of violence, he was seized because an expert said he appeared to be a pit bull terrier type, which are currently banned in Northern Ireland.
Image: Facebook | Save Hank
Sadly, Hank's story isn't entirely unique. Dogs around the world are impacted by Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL). According to the ASPCA, breed-specific legislation refers to laws that "either regulate or ban certain dog breeds in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals." Well-intentioned as these laws might be, the ASPCA says there is no evidence that BSL's make communities safer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly oppose BSL, which are both difficult and expensive to enforce.
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The "pit bull" class of dogs is especially impacted by BSL. This includes American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and English Bull Terriers. But pit bulls aren't the only dogs targeted by this kind of legislation. The ASPCA also notes that in some areas American Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers or any mix of these breeds might be subject to regulation.
While some states, like New York, Texas, and Illinois prohibit BSL, many places in the U.S. (more than 700 cities) have BSL laws on the books. Yikes. Dogs that aren't even on the BSL list are sometimes targeted; sometimes just looking like a restricted breed is enough to put a dog at risk of seizure — and that's exactly what happened to Hank.
Luckily for Hank and his human family, he's safe and sound at home now. "I can't even walk Hank round the corner without people stopping and asking if he is Hank and wanting to talk," Hank's owner, Joanne Meadows, told The Belfast Telegraph. "It is amazing, I want to thank everyone who has signed the petition and sent Hank a present."
Main Image: Facebook | Save Hank