Is he a pit bull or isn't he?
Did he bite a man and his dog or was the man threatening him with a knife?
The facts are unclear, but Munchie's fate may be sealed. This week a court upheld a decision by Toronto Animal Services to have the 4-year-old dog destroyed. Munchie has 30 days to live, pending an appeal.
The case began last September when Munchie escaped his downtown backyard. A scuffle ended with Munchie's quarantine and criminal charges against the man the dog is alleged to have attacked.
Sheila Yeung, one of Munchie's owners, said her neighbour had previously threatened to kill the dog and on that day he attacked the dog with a knife. When the dog broke free of his grasp, it ran into the house, she said.
Yeung, a 21-year-old Ryerson student, said she locked her door only to have the man break in, make threats and hold her at knifepoint. That man currently faces charges including uttering threats, break and enter and threatening with a weapon. None of the allegations has been proven in court.
But the man claims he and his dog were bitten. As a result, Munchie was quarantined and has remained with Animal Services since.
In October, Animal Services classified Munchie as a pit bull, and a threat to the safety of others.
Yeung said the dog is gentle and friendly. Munchie is a mutt who looks like a chocolate Lab, she said.
She does not believe he is a pit bull, and a Canadian Kennel Club-licensed judge agrees. After assessing the dog, Mike Macbeth concluded Munchie is not a pit bull but a mongrel that most resembles a field Labrador.
"I thought this case was a slam dunk. He doesn't have any characteristics of a pit bull. He looks like a skinny chocolate Lab," said Macbeth. But the court concluded Macbeth was biased and noted that of the eight dogs she has assessed for court cases, she has claimed none were pit bulls.
Eletta Purdy, manager of Animal Services, said looking at pictures of Munchie can be misleading.
"We believe he is a restricted pit bull," she said. "... We had evidence that the dog did attack and bit at least one person and one animal. Upon investigation of that incident, we believed it would continue to be a menace."
A restricted pit bull is one born and owned in Ontario before Aug. 29, 2005, when the province-wide ban on pit bulls came into effect.
Purdy said staff use accumulated knowledge, training and experience to determine the breed of a dog. In the case of a pit bull, legislation also provides guidance.
The Dog Owners' Liability Act defines a pit bull as a pit bull terrier, a Staffordshire bull terrier, an American Staffordshire terrier, an American pit bull terrier or a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are "substantially similar" to those dogs.
Yeung and Angela Feng, 24, co-owner of the dog, said they're upset the court rejected the argument Munchie is not a pit bull. The court ordered they pay $15,000 in court costs, money they don't have.
Lawyer Terry Green argued the expert they hired has more experience and knowledge than those at Animal Services. "Munchie looks like Bill Clinton's dog Buddy. He's a chocolate Lab," Green said.
Yeung and Feng have 30 days to file an appeal or Munchie will be destroyed.