A four-year-old dog held by animal services for more than 100 days will be taken from his Ontario family and rehomed out of province because he has been deemed a pit bull.
The City of Vaughan released the decision on Wednesday afternoon, saying that a DNA test has confirmed that the dog, whose name is Gamboa, is a “banned breed.”
“Since Gamboa is deemed a pit bull because of provincial legislation – (Vaughan Animal Services) must follow the province's law. As a result, staff are working with Gamboa's owner and animal service organizations to arrange Gamboa's adoption into a safe, loving home in a province where pit bulls are not banned.”
The city said that the months-long delay in the decision was due to a legal dispute with the dog’s owner.
Gamboa’s owner, Natalia Ramirez, said that she purchased him in 2016. She described the pup as a Labrador retriever American bulldog mix.
“Gamboa, to our family, is more than just a pet. He is our family member,” Ramirez told CTV News Toronto earlier this week. “He is the glue that holds my brother, mother and I together.”
In July of this year, Gamboa got out of the house and was picked up by Vaughan Animal Services, who subsequently held him because they thought he was part pit bull.
Ramirez said she offered documented proof of the dog’s breed, including veterinary letters and adoption papers.
“We have been trying to release Gamboa since day one and the city has been prolonging the situation with doing investigations and ‘poking holes in assessments’ done by experts.”
The city did not specify what percentage of Gamboa's DNA was considered pit bull.
Ontario’s Dog Owners Liability Act was amended in 2005 to ban the new ownership of pit bulls. The legislation also mandated that any animals already in the province be spayed or neutered.
MPP Rick Nicholls is trying to get the Ontario government to repeal a ban. His private members bill, also known as Bill 147, would “eliminate breed specific legislation which discriminates against a specific breed and their families.”
Speaking with CTV News Toronto on Thursday, Nicholls said that once the bill is passed, dogs like Gamboa should be able to come back home.
“Yesterday I asked (animal services) ‘is there any way we can stall, you know, until I can maybe get some further response from my government with regards to my bill and getting the legislation pushed through?’”
“He called me this morning and said no. They spoke with their lawyers and now that the testing has come back, testing showing that he has certain aspects of pit bull in him I guess, that they have contacted the family and will have to ship him out of the province.”
Nicholls also said he has been told by animal experts that the DNA test for dogs is not as accurate as the tests used for humans. He said he is heartbroken for Gamboa’s family and others going through similar situations. .
“Dog has no history of bites or anything like that and now he is being punished because he got out of his own fenced backyard. It’s a really really a sad story.”
Bill 147, which was introduced in November 2019, is currently in front of committee.
Vaughan Animal Services has released one other dog held because of its suspected pit bull pedigree. Ringo, a 12-year-old mixed breed, was released last week.
Kilo, a French bull dog-terrier mix, has also been held at Vaughan Animal Services for about two weeks. The city says Kilo can be reunited with his family now that their investigation is complete, but it is not clear if he has been released yet.
With files from Phil Tsekouras