Toronto

Teen allegedly attacked by dog at centre of pit-bull controversy

A dog that made headlines after being picked up by animal services in early October — and released after his plight prompted rallies against pit-bull regulations in Ontario — has allegedly mauled a 13-year old, leaving the boy's face swollen and needing stitches.

'He jumped on my face and bit it,' says 13-year-old Muhammad Almutaz Alzghool

Muhammad Almutaz Alzghool, 13, says he was attacked by a dog at the centre of Ontario's ongoing pit bull controversy shortly after it was released by animal services. (CBC)

A dog that made headlines after being picked up by animal services in early October — and released after his plight prompted rallies against pit-bull regulations in Ontario — has allegedly mauled a 13-year old, leaving the boy's face swollen and needing stitches.

Muhammad Almutaz Alzghool says the dog, known as Blu, attacked and bit him at Black Belt World, a downtown Toronto taekwondo studio owned by Blu's co-owner Tommy Chang.

The boy says, after wrapping up class, he saw Blu and told his instructor he was scared of dogs. He says his instructor challenged him to conquer his fear.

"He told me you have to overcome your fears and if you don't, you won't be a taekwondo national champion," Muhammad told CBC Toronto. 

"So I got closer to the dog and looked at him ... As I was looking at him, he jumped on my face and bit it. "

He needed more than a dozen stitches. 

The dog, Blu, was recently held by animal services for 24 days, on suspicion of being a pit bull, which are outlawed in Ontario. (Submitted by Tommy Chang)

"I've been feeling really bad because after these stitches, there might be scars on my face. It hurts a lot," he said. 

Blu, a one-year-old American Pocket Bully, was seized by animal services over a month ago on suspicion he was a pit bull, which are outlawed in Ontario. He was later released back to his owners on Nov. 1. 

Both Chang and a lawyer retained by the family declined to comment.

Ontario prohibited pit-bull ownership in 2005. The legislation also banned any dog with similar characteristics — which many owners found problematic. 

The provincial government on Friday eased regulations related to the ban, allowing seized dogs that resemble a prohibited breed to be released pending investigation.

Vaughan Animal Services has not seized the dog, and the incident is being investigated by police, the City of Vaughan, where Chang lives, said in a statement on Monday. 

Toronto police said they received a report of a dog bite on Friday, but didn't comment on next steps.

The dog would have been subject to stricter regulations had it been released after Ontario's regulatory change on Friday, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food And Rural Affairs. Those restrictions would include making sure the dog does not have contact with the general public or anybody unfamiliar with it. 

Muhammad's father, Muath Alzghool, was at the facility when he heard his son scream. 

He's calling on the Ontario government to reconsider the pitbull legislation.

"The most important thing for me to put some rules or to have some rules restrict these dogs from entering these facilities," Alzghool said. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Jabakhanji

Reporter/Editor

Sara Jabakhanji is a reporter with CBC News and has chased stories for the CBC across the province of Ontario in Toronto, Ottawa and London. She was born in Damascus, Syria and is fluent in Arabic. Reach her at: sara.jabakhanji@cbc.ca

With files from Samantha Beattie and Dalia Ashry

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