GTA dog owners, activists outraged over detention of pets by Vaughan Animal ServicesGTA dog owners, activists outraged over detention of pets by Vaughan Animal Services

Dog owners and activists are sounding the alarm after several dogs have reportedly been detained by Vaughan Animal Services on suspicion of being pit bulls — a breed that was banned in Ontario in 2005.

Natalia Ramirez says her four-year-old chocolate labrador mix Gamboa has been in the custody of Vaughan Animal Services (VAS) for more than 100 days. She says he is a gentle dog and has never bitten anyone or shown any aggression.

Gamboa has been with VAS since escaping from his backyard on July 20. Ramirez says when she went to retrieve him, staff refused to give the dog back, saying he looked like a pit bull and would have to be tested.

Gamboa has been assessed by an officer from the Canadian Kennel Club and at least one vet who both say he is not a pit bull.

Animal activist Lynn Perrier with Reform Advocates for Animal Welfare (RAAW) says when a dog is held for suspicion of being a pit bull by VAS, they could face a grim outcome.

“My understanding is that Vaughan Animal Services has developed a reputation of seizing animals, keeping them in their shelter, and they give owners a choice — they can give them up so that they can be transported out of province, they can be euthanized or they can pay a lot of money for boarding fees.”

VAS says, under the province’s Breed Specific Legislation (BSL), if a dog is determined to be part pit bull, the animal would have to be adopted out of province where the breed is not banned.

In a statement, VAS tells CityNews they are taking the “appropriate steps” under the legislation, and while they will not say officially say what happens if a suitable family cannot be found, Ramirez says euthanasia was an option presented to them by VAS staff.

Gamboa is one of three dogs recently detained by VAS for the same reason. One of them, Ringo was released last Friday.

A second dog, Kilo, is set to be released this Friday after a detention period of two and a half weeks.

There is no word as to what fate awaits Gamboa and a protest has been organized for Friday afternoon outside the Vaughan Animal Services shelter.

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