More than 16,000 dog-lovers around the world have signed a global petition to save an Irish dog from death row.

Bruce, a Staffordshire-bull terrier cross, faces execution some two years after he was seized by local officials in Bangor, Co Down.

The local council says he must be put down because he is said to be part of the banned pit-bull breed.

Now, his heart-broken owner Shannon Brown is appealing the ruling.

"He has never harmed anyone or ever would, if he did I would have put my hand up to it," she said.

Shannon adopted Bruce a few years ago after he had been abandoned on the the streets in Bangor by his previous owners.

“We found Bruce as a puppy in a cardboard box on Albert Street in Bangor and he was just over two years old when he was seized.

“I understand pit-bulls being used for fighting would be a danger but this was a family pet who was never abused in any way.”

Shannon is now pinning her final hopes on international support.

“The response has been brilliant and crazy and completely unexpected,” she said.

Ironically, if Bruce lived south of the border in Ireland, he would be not be on death row as pitbulls are not a banned breed.

And if he lived in Britain, he would be fine because British owners are allowed to keep a banned breed if they comply with several regulations including neutering the dog and getting them insured.

However, in Northern Ireland a different law applies and the animal must be destroyed.

A tearful Shannon said she is getting legal aid to fight the case which has already cost the council about $28,000.

The case has been blasted by the Ulster Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals

Stephen Philpott said: "Bruce is the ultimate loser in this whole protracted legal process."

"I and my veterinary surgeon have very strong opinions on the incarceration of dogs.

"Locking dogs up in kennels for two years is certainly not doing that dog a favor.

"This is a a law designed to kill dogs and we think it should be sorted out."