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HugABull pitbull event goes to the (other) dogs

There won’t be any pit bull pups at a pit bull rescue society fundraiser planned for this weekend in Burnaby.
HugABull Panks for Paws

There won’t be any pit bull pups at a pit bull rescue society fundraiser planned for this weekend in Burnaby.

Organizers for the Planks for Paws fundraiser at Warner Loat Park have decided to leave the pit bulls at home after the Burnaby branch of the B.C. SPCA received a complaint about the event in advance.

“We got a couple of emails from people saying there’s a woman in Burnaby who has a big problem with the breed of dog and is patrolling on her own time, is going around to parks and calling in every dog she feels is a pit bull and is either off leash or unmuzzled,” April Fahr, executive director of the HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society, told the NOW, adding she was told the woman had written to animal control about the fundraiser. “Our plan, just to have a couple of foster dogs on leash come and meet the people, now has had to become something very different.”

The SPCA contacted the group and confirmed there was a complaint, and reminded them of Burnaby’s animal control bylaws, which categorize pit bulls as vicious dogs and state they must be on leash and muzzled when outside.

“We’re obviously very aware of the bylaw, and we’re very careful when we host events in Burnaby, but you know, it just seems really unfair that someone with a personal vendetta is taking up animal control’s time and the city’s resources for something that’s not only pretty harmless, but a community event,” Fahr said.

The fundraiser is primarily an event for humans, with yoga and fitness sessions by donation. The yoga session kicks off at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, and at 11 a.m., the foster pit bulls were going to be on hand.

Instead, the organization is bringing other breeds of dogs to visit with its supporters, each dog standing in for an absent pit bull.

There was a similar fundraiser held at the park in 2014 without incident, Fahr said.

“We had it last year, it was a huge success, she said. “And so Andrea (Gnys, a personal trainer who volunteers at fundraisers for rescue societies) wanted to do it again this year.”

Ryan Voutilainen, branch manager of the Burnaby SPCA, confirmed the branch received a complaint. The SPCA is contracted by the city to provide animal control services, and though the organization is against breed-specific bylaws, they do enforce the city’s bylaws as part of that contract.

The Burnaby SPCA has been in touch with HugABull about the event, he said.

“In this case here, there’s another animal welfare organization that we actually work with at the Burnaby SPCA, so we don’t really anticipate any kind of issues in this case,” he added. “We know that HugABull is a very responsible organization.”

For more information on the fundraiser, go to

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