Puppy kept by Vaughan Animal Services for weeks because it may be some pit bull released to the owner

A puppy kept for weeks by Vaughan Animal Services (VAS) on suspicion of being part of the pit bull has been released to its owners, something they say was only possible because of the mass support the family received.

In mid-October, Tommy Chang told CTV News Toronto that their then 12-week-old puppy named Dwaeji had run from their home through an open door and was picked up by VAS. When Chang received the call, he was initially relieved to hear that Dwaeji was safe.

But that relief quickly turned to anger when VAS refused to return the puppy and insisted that it perform a DNA test before releasing the animal to determine if it was part of the pit bull.

“It’s been terrible,” Chang said at the time, adding that Dwaeji is an American bully and is not aggressive. “My wife has literally cried day and night. My sons are completely crushed.”

Chang detained a lawyer and provided VAS with documentation from two veterinarians, as well as the American Bully Kennel Club, that the dog is not a pit bull. City Pound, however, said it was not happy with the posts and insisted that a DNA test was the only way to assess the dog’s pedigree.

Dwaeji

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, VAS said it has completed its investigation into Dwaeji’s breeding.

“Based on the work of this investigation, it has been determined that King-Kong Blu (also known as Dwaeji) can be legally released and he has been reunited with his owners,” officials said. “This is a very happy ending. VAS took the appropriate steps under this provincial legislation and we are pleased with the result.”

No further information was provided on what VAS found during its investigation.

“It does not even feel real,” Chang told CTV News Toronto. “We figured this would go the whole way.”

“It’s been like a really bad emotional roller coaster ride. Very painful.”

Dog

Chang said the family is overjoyed to have their dog companion back, but that he feels Dwaeji is not quite himself.

“We are so excited to have him, but we also experience that he has lost his personality. He has changed a little.”

Dwaeji spent more than three weeks in VAS custody. Chang said he was returned about 10 pounds lighter than before.

While Dwaeji’s story has a happy ending, Chang said he will not stop fighting for other owners in similar predicament. He knows he is luckier than others whose pets were kept for much longer or even moved back after it was discovered they were part of the pit bull.

“I think this will be a catalyst that will help change things,” he said. “We can not stop because Dwaeji is out now.”

Pitbull ownership is prohibited under the Ontario Dog Owners Liability Act. While a bill for private members that would lift the ban was tabled in November 2019, it has been in committee ever since.

Chang says his situation was likely affected by the influx of public support his family has received from animal rights groups, community members and politicians. He said Prime Minister Doug Ford has called him on a couple of occasions and urged the family to be patient.

“It went viral, literally globally, not just in Ontario,” Chang said. “I would like to acknowledge the support.”

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