In recent years, the alarming exotic pet trade in the U.S. has come to include wolves and wolf-dog hybrids. Although many wolf species are currently endangered, misinformed people who are attracted to the beauty of wolves and wish to keep one as a pet can still purchase them through a quick Google search. Online breeders inform their potential customers that the wild animal cubs were “raised indoors,” “well-socialized,” or “bottle-fed.” This language is designed to make people think that these animals are inherently tame and docile, easily raised in a house just like a dog.
While the wolf or wolf-dog is still a cub, the problems associated with keeping them in a home may not be readily apparent. But as they grow older – when their wild tendencies toward hunting, scavenging and wandering become more obvious – the humans who live with them quickly realize that these animals do not make good pets.
Despite the physical and genetic similarities between dogs and wolves, the two are very different in terms of their personalities and behaviors. Ten thousand years of selective breeding, adaptation, and experience of living alongside humans has given dogs a temperament that is suited toward being a family pet. Wolves, however, have spent those thousands of years living apart from humans and fending for themselves. Hand-rearing wolves from the time they are cubs will not be enough to erase their natural instincts.
The story of Karma – the wolf-husky hybrid who was recently saved from a euthanization order and is now being sent to a sanctuary – makes this abundantly clear.
The four-year-old canine, who had been living in Anaheim, Orange County, Cal., was removed from her home in May after her guardians were arrested in a domestic violence incident. Upon discovering that she was part wolf, and hearing allegations that she had killed a cat, Orange County Animal Care declared Karma “vicious” through a city ordinance.
Erika Ritchie, who had been covering her story for the O.C. Register, said that the evidence that Karma had, in fact, killed the cat was in dispute – and that if she did, it may have been because she was left without food. Ritchie also stated that the amount of wolf genes carried by Karma was another contentious issue: “That’s been a matter of discussion, about whether or not she is really wolf, how much wolf she really has. But basically the bottom line is because she does have that in there, there’s a question as to whether or not rabies vaccine is effective on a dog that has wolf content.”
This becomes an issue when it comes to trying to rehome a wolf-dog hybrid as your average animal shelter cannot take the animals in nor can they find a new home for the animals without proper vaccination. Not to mention, there are very few guardians who are prepared with the knowledge and physical space on their property necessary to ensure the well-being of these animals. Sadly, this means that many suspected wolf-dog hybrids end up being put down in shelters.
Luckily, Karma has now been given a reprieve! A judge ruled that instead of being euthanized, she should be sent to a sanctuary. The decision has been praised by animal rights attorney Christine Garcia, who said, “There is no evidence that Karma actually killed the black cat. We do have one person that says (they) saw Karma with the black cat after the cat was already dead. I’m grateful that the dog is not being killed.”
How wonderful to hear that Karma will be sent to a specialized sanctuary where her needs can be adequately be catered for! Let’s hope that her case serves as a deterrent to anyone who still thinks that getting a wolf or wolf-dog as a pet is a cool idea…
Lead image source: ABC Local
In-text image source: SCPR.org