Toronto

Owner of dog freed by Vaughan Animal Services calls for end to breed specific legislation

Ontario needs to repeal breed specific legislation immediately because family dogs that look like pit bulls are being detained, causing their owners much grief, says a man whose dog was released on Monday by Vaughan Animal Services.

Blu held for 24 days but released on Monday after public pressure, owner says

Blu is seen here running in a school yard. Vaughan Animal Services finally freed him on Monday. (Submitted by Tommy Chang)

Ontario needs to repeal breed specific legislation immediately because family dogs that look like pit bulls are being detained, causing their owners much grief, says a man whose dog was released on Monday by Vaughan Animal Services.

Tommy Chang, owner of Blu, also known as Dwaeji, said on Tuesday he is absolutely thrilled to have his dog back home. Blu was held by Vaughan Animal Services (VAS) for 24 days before he was finally freed.

A grey dog, Blu has a large head, short fur and a stocky body. He is a one-year-old American Pocket Bully.

Chang said Ontario's breed specific legislation targets not only dogs considered dangerous but also dogs that have physical characteristics similar to pit bulls. He is urging the provincial government to amend the Dog Owners' Liability Act, which prohibits pit bulls in Ontario.

Under this legislation, dogs that have the appearance of pit bulls are being detained, he said.

"Now that Blu has been released, that is our next step," Chang told CBC Toronto. "If dogs are fighting and are aggressive, the owners should be punished and warned. There's a grey area where animal services can use the legislation against dogs with similar physical characteristics."

Chang said Blu smelled terribly after he was released but he has had a bath. The dog has also lost weight. His family took a video of Blu in the car after his release and a family member on the video noticed that his collar was loose from weight loss.

Owner credits social media in part for Blu's release

Blu got out of the house through an open door on Oct. 8 and was picked up by Vaughan Animal Services. The agency insisted on a DNA test. While Chang had documentation proving that Blu is an American Pocket Bully, Vaughan Animal Services didn't accept it, he said.

MPP Michael Tibollo, who represents Vaughan-Woodbridge, helped to secure Blu's release, according to Chang.

A social media campaign and lawyer Leo Kinahan, retained by the family, also played a role, he said. 

"During the legal battle, I decided to go public," Chang said.

A rally was held at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto on Saturday as well to demand the release of Blu. Dog owners joined Chang in the square to show their support.

Chang, however, said his story is not unique.

"There are still individuals fighting to get their dogs back into the province," he said.

Vaughan Animal Services, for its part, said in a statement on Tuesday that Blu was lawfully released and reunited with his owners on Monday. 

"This is a very happy ending. VAS took the appropriate steps under this provincial legislation, and we are pleased with the outcome," the statement reads.

The Ontario government prohibited pit bull ownership in 2005, angering many dog lovers who argued the law wrongly punished pets instead of their owners.

Tommy Chang, upper left, and his family. Blu is seen in the middle. (Submitted by Tommy Chang)

With files from Nathan Crocker and The Canadian Press

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