Dog owner’s lawyer claims video shows the dog was provoked
A boy’s on painkillers with a face full of stitches after being attacked by a dog just days after it was released by Vaughan Animal Services.
“I’m worried about if there will be scars left when they take out the stitches,” Muhammad Alzghool, 13, said.
The dog, named Dwaeji, is owned by high-profile martial arts instructor Tommy Chang.
On Oct. 8, it was picked up by animal services after escaping its yard and was held for 24 days. Officials believed it was a banned pit bull.
After a DNA test proved it was not, Dwaeji was released Nov. 1.
The attack on Muhammad happened Nov. 5 during his taekwondo lessons at Black Belt Studio on Bloor St. W.
The boy said he was moving a table but Chang’s dog – which was under the care of his son – was positioned where the table had to go.
He said his instructor asked him if he feared dogs.
“Yes,” he replied.
Muhammad said Chang told him he should overcome that fear if he wants to become a national champion.
“I went to the dog and the dog jumped at me and bit my face,” said Muhammed. “He just grabbed on me and then let go.”
When his father heard the screaming, and the injuries, he said he started to call 911.
“I just heard my son screaming,” Muath Alzghool recalled. “When I seen his face I was terrified. I couldn’t do anything.”
But he said Chang urged him not to call for help.
“’Please, sir, don’t call the police,’” the instructor said, according to Alzghool. He recalled Chang saying, “Muhammed is not going to die.”
The instructor’s plea prompted Muhammad to say that he “didn’t really care about me. He cared about his dog more.”
On Wednesday, Chang’s lawyer — Leo Kinahan — said in a statement that his client is cooperating with the police investigation.
“The young man was bitten, of that, there is no question, and that circumstance is clearly tragic,” Kinahan said.
But, according to him, video of the event shows Muhammad “had several encounters with (the dog) prior to being bitten in which he not only displayed no fear but appeared to be interacting in what could be described as an animated or aggressive manner with the animal.”
The lawyer described the boy’s actions “as somewhat antagonistic towards the animal.”
Muhammad is hoping to have his stitches removed Thursday, but fears his face will remain scarred.
“My son has already paid a price. We have already paid a price,” Alzghool said. “I don’t want anybody else to go through what we have gone through.”
When the dog was released, Progressive Conservative MPP Michael Tibollo tweeted his support.
“Dwaeji has returned home! Following my recent meeting with Tommy (Chang), I raised the issue at the appropriate levels. Dwaeji is now safely with Tommy and his family,” he wrote.
When asked about the dog Tuesday during a news conference with Health Minister Christine Elliott, Tibollo noted “the pet is part of the individual’s family.
“The reason that the pet was being kept was pursuant to a description that wasn’t accurate. And it was released as a result of that. What was done was the right thing to do.”