Many thanks to Julia Le and the Mississauga News.
For more than two years, Danny Truong has lived in fear that his dog would be euthanized or shipped out of province if he couldn't prove in court that the animal is not a pit bull.
The 23-year-old Mississauga man, who was charged on Dec. 15, 2008 with owning a prohibited animal, no longer fears such consequences.
Earlier today at the Ontario Court of Justice, on Burnhamthorpe Rd., the charge was amended to owning a dog that behaved in a manner that poses a menace to the safety of a person.
Truong pleaded guilty and has 30 days to pay a $250 fine.
Most importantly, though, he'll keep Bowser, a Rottweiler-Boxer mix who's now nearly three years old.
Truong said it's been a stressful fight to keep his "best friend."
"It felt like a dark cloud over my head all this time," he said after today's court proceedings. "I've been living in fear of losing my dog.
"This is the best day ever," Truong continued, adding it's been an emotional roller coaster for him. "This is a great start to the (lunar new year). It's the year of the rabbit, and that's my year."
Truong's ordeal began on Nov. 25, 2008, when he took then 10-month-old Bowser to be neutered at a veterinary clinic.
Some three weeks later, Mississauga Animal Services officers went to his home and charged him under the Dog Owners' Liability Act. Truong said the officers told him that the clinic had filed a complaint.
Truong, who didn't have to hand over his dog to authorities, said that in the last year, with help from his lawyer, family and friends, he prepared a strong case that showed Bowser wasn't an illegal dog.
Selma Mulvey, an advocate for dog owners' rights who helped Truong, says he was needlessly put through the ordeal simply because someone believed Bowser to be a pit bull.
"Dog owners have no way of knowing whether or not they are breaking the law because the legislation is vague," she said.
Moving forward, Truong says he's continuing to train his dog and socialize him. But most of all, he says Bowser just wants to play.
"He's more than just a dog," he said. "He's my best friend and a part of my family."