Rutgers Law Journal
THE HYBRIDS HOWL: LEGISLATORS LISTEN -- THESE ANIMALS AERN'T CRYING
Barbara J. Kramek
Copyright © 1992 by the Rutgers School of Law - Camden; Barbara J. Kramek
The new age of conservation in the 1990's has literally produced a new breed of problems. Now, more than ever, Americans care about preserving the environment. Although efforts to educate people on the state of our environs have proven effective, one such effort -- to dispel the myth of the wolf as a big, bad predator -- may have backfired. When one sees film footage of a wolf living in the wild, one cannot help but admire the beauty, mystique, and intelligence of such a creature. [FN1] Under the premise of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, [FN2] the Secretary of the Interior has listed the wolf as a protected species [FN3] and hence, one cannot own a pure wolf as a pet. [FN4] In an effort to obtain the next best thing, [FN5] people took to breeding wolves with dogs, forming the controversial wolf-dog hybrids. [FN6]
Many real problems arise with the ownership of the hybrid as a pet: their natural wolf instincts sometimes lead them to perceive small children as prey, they cannot be vaccinated with an approved rabies shot, and they hamper the efforts of naturalists to enhance the image of the wild wolf for purposes of preservation. [FN7] Owners create more problems when they *634 purchase a hybrid as a status symbol, [FN8] but do not realize the nature of the beast which they have brought home. While owners and breeders sing the praises of hybrids as intelligent and beautiful pets, [FN9] opponents of hybrids -- wolf experts, [FN10] dog lovers, [FN11] veterinarians, [FN12] and the medial [FN13] -- drown out these laudits.
Few state legislators have taken a stand on the hybrid controversy, although several options do exist. States can control hybrids by banning them, regulating them as exotic animals, categorizing them like dogs, or imposing liability on sellers and breeders. [FN14] Most states do nothing and let hybrids fall through the crack between the regulation of wild animals by the Fish and Game Department [FN15] and the regulation of domestic dogs by the Department of Agriculture. [FN16] Luckily, recent statewide actions for the control of pit bulls and dangerous dogs have paved the way for similar actions concerning the hybrid. [FN17]
States must ban the general public from owning these canines while permitting an exception for those people who have the time, energy, space, money, and know-how to raise these animals as exotic pets. Heavy regulations and fees would burden the owners who choose to devote their lives to hybrids, while a tattoo registry system would ease the difficulties of enforcing such a system.
II. PROBLEMS WITH HYBRID OWNERSHIP
The increasing popularity of casual hybrid ownership provides sound reason to take legal steps towards strict control of hybrid ownership. [FN18]
*635 A. Danger to Children
The horror stories of attacks on children [FN19] demand that state governments *636 take a more unified and carefully considered approach toward the ownership of these animals as pets. The hybrid does not readily lose the predatory instincts which it inherits from its lupine ancestors. [FN20] Indeed, breeders of domestic dogs have only successfully curbed this same characteristic after 10,000 years of selective mating. [FN21] While pure wolves usually shy away from adult humans, [FN22] they are drawn to a child's erratic movements as small bodies can trigger the same predatory behavior which has genetically passed to the hybrids. [FN23] No one can blame the hybrid for this natural response, so owners must take special precautions to protect unwary humans from such an unprovoked attack. [FN24]
*637 B. Danger to Hybrids
In an age of increased awareness of animal rights, states must consider the plight of the hybrid itself. Caught between two worlds, the hybrid does not occupy its own place in nature. [FN25] People who obtain hybrids as pets often do not realize that they do not act like dogs, nor can they be treated as such. [FN26] If displaced as a family pet, the hybrid cannot survive in the wild because the intermingling of the canine and lupine gene pools has dulled *638 the instinctual responses which are necessary for such survival. [FN27] Likewise, if the freed hybrids were to mate with wild wolves, the survival of the wild wolf as a species would be jeopardized as a result of this genetic tampering. [FN28] Moreover, the specie mixing would endanger the progress of reintroducing and increasing wild wolf populations by causing the removal of the wild wolf from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. [FN29] Since *639 shelters will not or can not accept the unwanted hybrid pet, the owner must destroy the animal. [FN30]
C. Danger to the Public
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has neither approved nor licensed a rabies vaccine for wolves or hybrids. [FN31] Most veterinarians, however, agree that the existing killed virus vaccines will work on wolves and hybrids, and vaccinate the animals accordingly. [FN32] These practitioners may later find themselves faced with liability for vaccinating a hybrid that subsequently becomes rabid. [FN33] This risk causes some veterinarians to refuse to vaccinate hybrids. [FN34] Those who do vaccinate can not rely on the unproven theory that the killed virus vaccines will work, and must protect themselves by having the owners sign a statement acknowledging their understanding that the efficacy of the vaccine remains unknown and that the state Department of Health will not recognize the animal as having been vaccinated. [FN35] Thus, vaccinating a hybrid against rabies will not provide any warranty that the animal will not contract the disease.
The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) considers hybrids to be wild animals. [FN36] The existing risk of rabies in wild animals has caused the NASPHV, along with other *640 veterinary organizations, to "strongly recommend the enactment of state laws . . . prohibiting the distribution or keeping of wild animals as pets." [FN37]
A. Concerns of Hybrid Owners
Those who support the private ownership of the hybrid contend that the wolf may someday become extinct, leaving hybrids as the only animal resembling its wild ancestor. [FN38] They believe that they can dispel wolf myths by using hybrids as educational tools. [FN39] Other hybrid advocates admire pure wolves, but choose hybrids as pets because they cannot legally keep wolves. [FN40] Some owners keep hybrids merely to supplement their egos, as they revel in the fact that they can control a quasi-wild beast. [FN41] Friends of hybrids agree that with responsible ownership, the hybrid may serve as a viable alternative to the domestic dog. [FN42] Responsible ownership of a hybrid, however, requires such a tremendous amount of knowledge, skill *641 and effort that the average person cannot realistically manage a hybrid as a pet. [FN43]
B. Concerns of Wolf Experts
Pure wolf enthusiasts insist on keeping the interests of wolves and wolf hybrids separate. [FN44] They argue that wolves belong in the wild, and affirmatively support efforts both to protect pure wolves and to ban *642 hybrids. [FN45] These two concerns naturally converge when one considers that breeders illegally obtain wolves from the wild to produce their hybrid stock. [FN46] Additionally, wolf experts claim that the hybrid does not serve as a useful ambassador for the wolf. [FN47]
Considering all the bad press about hybrids, [FN48] efforts to dispel the negative image of wolves have come full circle. Traditional images of the wolf present the animal as a ruthless predator. [FN49] Public education programs had begun to debunk these stereotypes. [FN50] Popular movies such as Dances With Wolves [FN51] and White Fang, [FN52] documentaries, and "nature stores" across the country disseminated image-enhancing information to the general public. Consequently, the public began a love affair with wolves, and became infatuated with them. This obsession has lead to an increased demand for hybrids, [FN53] creating the problem of owners who want the pet merely as a status symbol, and breeders who produce the animal merely for the financial rewards that come when a high price can be charged for an item which is in demand--supply side economics at the expense of an innocent animal. [FN54] Irresponsible owners and breeders are the *643 true cause of the child tragedies which are exploited by the press. [FN55] Once again, the wolf is the victim of unjust stereotyping.
C. Concerns of Dog Owners
An interesting view of the hybrid controversy is that of the owners and breeders of Alaskan Malamutes. The Alaskan Malamute is a large Northern type sled dog whose appearance closely resembles that of a wolf. [FN56] Hybrid breeders prefer to mate both their wolves and hybrids with Malamutes in order to produce offspring which retains the wolflike appearance and domesticated good nature of the breed. [FN57] Malamute breeders and owners, however, do not like hybrids because they 1 ) damage the reputation of the Malamute as a breed, [FN58] 2) can "infect" currently pure *644 Malamute bloodlines, [FN59] 3) occupy a share of the market for Northern type dogs that resemble wolves, [FN60] and 4) act in a dangerous and unstable manner. Ironically, Malamute owners and breeders fear that a hybrid ban would adversely affect their dogs because enforcement officials might not be able to correctly distinguish a hybrid from a Malamute. [FN61] Both wolf experts and Malamute experts agree that in some cases, the determination of whether an animal falls into the category of canine, lupine, or hybrid is an extremely difficult and subjective one which is not at all fool-proof. [FN62] As a result, Malamute enthusiasts find themselves in a Catch-22 situation.
IV. POSSIBLE LEGISLATION/TREATMENT
With a hybrid, one can own a part of the wild without violating the Endangered Species Act. [FN63] Some state and municipal authorities, on the other hand, do not categorize the hybrid as simplistically as does the *645 federal government. States have the power to ban hybrids, [FN64] regulate them like wild or exotic animals, [FN65] classify them as dogs, [FN66] impose liability on those involved in the distribution of hybrids, [FN67] permit private hybrid and dog associations to regulate hybrids internally, [FN68] or ignore the existence of hybrids altogether.
A. The Ban
New York state bans hybrids. [FN69] A total ban may provide the simplest means of preventing attacks on humans and protecting the pure wolf as authorities can gain control by eliminating hybrids as they find them. Such a ban, however, does not stop breeders who employ underground or black market practices, [FN70] nor is it always successful. [FN71] A hybrid ban also raises the same constitutional questions that a "pit bull" ban raises. [FN72] Dog owners *646 constitutionally challenge breed bans by raising vagueness, equal protection, and due process claims. [FN73]
Hybrid owners could challenge the term "hybrid" as unconstitutionally vague just as pit bull owners challenge the term "pit bull" as such. [FN74] A narrowly tailored statute or the use of an expert panel would satisfy such a challenge by clearing up any definitional ambiguities.
The equal protection challenge -- that a ban discriminates against hybrid owners and denies them equal protection of the laws -- must withstand the rational basis test. [FN75] The law must rationally relate to a legitimate government purpose in order to be considered constitutional. [FN76] Courts could readily uphold a hybrid ban because the additional governmental objective of protecting the wolf as an endangered animal reinforces governmental interest in the ban.
Hybrid owners could also assert that a ban violates their due process rights by depriving them of their property without just compensation. [FN77] Determining whether a pet owner deserves compensation involves the use of a balancing test which weighs the public's interest in safety against any harm which the owner may suffer. [FN78] Barring even the lack of an approved rabies vaccine, a hybrid ban would withstand such challenges in the same manner as the various pit bull bans. [FN79]
A total ban seems unduly harsh for the few responsible hybrid owners who can afford the time, money, and space to keep the hybrid as a wild animal. For some owners it is not impossible to provide a double fenced area large enough to accommodate this robust animal and the expensive meat and specially formulated food required for its proper nourishment. [FN80] Unfortunately, the few responsible owners may have to suffer because of *647 the many irresponsible owners who either cannot afford to properly care for their hybrids as exotic pets or refuse to do so because they insist that the hybrid always acts like a regular dog.
A ban may deter the average hybrid owner, but the fanatical owner will rely on underground and black market practices to keep the breed alive. A ban will also cause the devoted hybrid owner to lie about the heritage of his animal. [FN81] Owners will say that their animals do not have wolf genes, or that their animals are mutts which merely resemble wolves or hybrids. Regulations will adversely affect the breeds of domestic dogs which have physical characteristics similar to the hybrid because hybrid owners will falsely claim that their hybrids are combinations thereof. [FN82]
B. Exotic Animal Regulations
If states enacted standard exotic animal regulations, enforcement *648 authorities might focus on discovering violations. Once such violations were discovered, the authorities would confiscate the hybrid until the owner could comply with the pertinent regulations. Tennessee employs this type of system. [FN83] Compliance with these extensive regulations would *649 require a considerable economic investment by the owner resulting in the detrimental confinement of the hybrid by the authorities for an extended period of time. [FN84]
Ideally, owners would comply with such regulations because of their concern for the well-being of the hybrid and not because of the threat of governmental enforcement. In reality, enforcement problems plague regulations and most owners will not comply unless forced to do so.
C. Hybrid = Dog
A state, such as New Jersey, that regulates hybrids in the same manner that it regulates dogs, ignores the obvious dangers. [FN85] New Jersey's vicious dog law provides for a panel of animal behaviorists to analyze a dog's dangerous propensities. [FN86] States cannot control hybrids under these types of laws because when a hybrid does attack, it has the physical ability *650 to kill or dismember a person even though it may never have exhibited aggressive tendencies before the attack. [FN87] Additionally, a hybrid may not appear dangerous until sudden exposure to a specific stimulus triggers a predatory response which causes it to attack without warning. [FN88]
Moreover, dog laws usually require owners to license and vaccinate their animals. States cannot require an owner to vaccinate his hybrid when an approved rabies vaccine does not exist. [FN89]
D. Laissez Faire
The worst governmental approach ignores the societal need to control the hybrid population. Alaska, home to one widely publicized incident where a hybrid killed a 4-week old infant, [FN90] utilizes this type of system. [FN91] "In most states, Fish and Game Departments consider them dogs so they don't have to worry about them, and animal control considers them wolves so they don't have to worry about them." [FN92] Because of this type of *651 bureaucratic procrastination, real life concerns about rabies, vicious animal attacks, and the proper maintenance of hybrids unforgivably escape attention.
E. Seller's Liability
The imposition of liability on hybrid vendors may serve as one remedy to the hybrid controversy. Legislatures or courts could develop a statute or common law rule to impose liability upon those responsible for the introduction of hybrids into the marketplace. [FN93] Placing the responsibility on those who create the danger would serve to eliminate the source, curb the increasing numbers, and end the destruction of the many unwanted hybrids. [FN94]
This remedy of imposing liability on sellers requires the injured party to seek redress and compensation through the courts. In actuality, few hybrid attack cases ever make it to court. [FN95] In one case, the insurance company of an animal shelter in Florida settled out of court by paying $425,000 to the parents of a 4-year old boy who had been fatally mauled by a hybrid which the shelter had given away as the "pet of the week." [FN96] Perhaps the fact that families often think of these vicious beasts as beloved pets can explain the lack of litigious redress. When a hybrid attacks a person, the animal is often killed either out of anger, revenge, self protection, or by authorities who must test it for rabies and who try to retrieve body parts from the animal's stomach for reattachment purposes. [FN97] Oftentimes, the death of the animal is held to balance the harm *652 done, and the parties involved consider the matter finished. Indeed, when owners consider the hybrid a member of the family, they tend to dismiss such human tragedy as a freak accident. [FN98]
The question of liability for the injuries caused by a hybrid also raises the issue of whether courts should classify the hybrid as a wild or domestic animal. The common law holds the keeper strictly liable if his animal is classified as a wild animal, or ferae naturae. [FN99] Owners of pure wolves have found themselves in precisely this situation. [FN100] For animals classified as tame, or mansuetae naturae, [FN101] the common law imposes the requirement of scienter on the owners. [FN102] The wild versus tame distinction does not resolve how courts should classify an animal such as the hybrid. The hybrid's Latin name, canis lupus x domesticus, provides no insight in attempting to resolve this dilemma. Canis lupus, or wolf, is categorized as wild while canis domesticus, or dog, is classified as tame. However, courts may hold owners of hybrids liable under the theory that it is irrelevant that an owner has tamed or domesticated a hybrid because the animal's genetic tendency towards wild and ferocious behavior can never be fully eliminated through training, and can surface at any time. [FN103] As a result, the hybrid keeper should secure his animal from doing harm. [FN104]
Lawmakers could expand liability coverage to include any animal that causes injury. [FN105] Rather than using ambiguous labels such as "wild," "exotic," "tame," or "domestic," legislators could formulate a specific list *653 of excepted animals with liability ensuing for all unlisted animals. [FN106] Traditional pets such as domestic dogs and cats would certainly make the list, but hybrids would not. As such, liability would extend to all participants in the hybrid distribution chain -- those who abduct pure wolves from the wild, those who breed and sell hybrids, and shelters and others who give hybrids "free to good homes." While physical identification problems would plague this, as well as other methods of control, the increased liability coverage would provide a bright line distinction to aid in curtailing the ownership of these dangerous animals.
F. Internal Controls
Dog owners and hybrid owners have both proposed the use of internal control systems in their private breed clubs as a limited solution. Some members of the Alaskan Malamute Club of America advocate a change in their Code of Ethics to specifically prohibit the sale of Malamutes to persons involved in wolf hybrid breeding. [FN107] Similarly, numerous hybrid organizations devote themselves to the advancement of the breed through adherence to ethical practices and standards. [FN108] They focus on obtaining approval of a rabies vaccine and developing a comprehensive registry system. Most hybrid organizations support a system [FN109] which would permit *654 them to keep their animals under wild or exotic animal regulations. [FN110] An important consideration is the fact that private breed clubs can exert lobbying pressure on state legislatures. [FN111]
V. PROPOSED LEGISLATION/TREATMENT
A. The Modified Ban
At this time, a ban seems ideal. Perhaps legislators can make a limited exclusion for those people willing to bear the burden of proving they can invest the necessary time, space, money, and effort to properly keep these animals as exotic pets. These people would have to demonstrate their *655 knowledge of hybrids, and open their facilities to an independent evaluation prior to receiving such an exclusion. Tennessee regulations and the recommendations from the Wolf Hybrid Legislative Workshop [FN112] could serve as models. Rather than employing the bright line, 75% wolf genetic categorization, states should adopt the "panel of experts" approach as exemplified by recommendations. [FN113] A first generation hybrid, which has a genetic make-up of 50% wolf and 50% dog, would serve as the minimum cutoff for hybrid status. Included within this proscription would be the offspring of a hybrid with either a wolf, dog or second hybrid so as to provide the maximum benefit to the public safety. The panel of experts would examine animals of speculative heritage and classify them accordingly. To compensate the potential shortage of experts capable to sit on such a panel, the regulations could provide a method for examination by video tape.
Authorities could also initiate a registration and tattoo system. The registration fees for ownership of these animals should, first and foremost, deter casual ownership and, secondly, provide a financial basis to support the enforcement of these regulations. The fees could also support research efforts for development of a test to differentiate a hybrid from a dog without causing the death of the animal. Once established, an accepted national hybrid organization, akin to the American Kennel Club, could assume responsibility for this registry.
Unlike most regulatory systems, if authorities discovered a hybrid which was not registered or tattooed, they could destroy the animal immediately, as they would if a complete ban were in effect. Fees must also be used to fund educational programs for animal control officers so they could correctly distinguish dogs from hybrids. Private breed clubs could assist in the development of such programs in their local areas to support the efforts of authorities. This system would have the deterrent effect of a ban, yet would still allow responsible owners to enjoy the wolf-dog hybrid.
The hybrid represents the legal animal problem of the nineties just as the pit bull proved problematic in the eighties. Many avenues to combat the controversy are presently available, yet state lawmakers have chosen not to act. States should enact legislation to ban ownership of these animals from all but the most responsible owners who would bear the burden of proving their ability to properly possess the animal. Substantial fees would deter *656 casual ownership and would fund education, research, and enforcement efforts.
FN1. See DANCES WITH WOLVES (Orion Pictures 1991); WHITE FANG (Walt Disney Pictures 1990).
FN2. 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-44(1988). Section 1533 requires the Secretary of the Interior to compile all the species he has determined to be "endangered" or "threatened" in a list.
FN3. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, 50 C.F.R. § 17.11(h) (1991). The gray wolf, canis lupus, whose historic range is holarctic, is endangered in the 48 contiguous United States. excluding Minnesota, and Mexico. Id. In Minnesota, the gray wolf population is "threatened." Id. The red wolf, canis rufus, also a native to the south western United States, is endangered across the entire country except in Dare, Tyrrell, Hyde, and Washington Counties in North Carolina, where authorities released a nonessential experimental population in the hopes of increasing the depleted numbers of these animals. Id.
FN4. 16 U.S.C. § 1538 (1988). The act allows permits for scientific purposes under § 1539(a)
FN5. Betsy S. Siino, Wolf Hybrids, DOG FANCY, Jan. 1990, at 51, 53.
FN6. Canines constitute one of the rare groups in the animal kingdom whereby related species can mate and produce fertile offspring. William Booth, Questioned Pedigree Clouds Wolf Program; Conservation Law Won't Help Save a Hybrid, WASHINGTON POST, June 24, 1991, at A3. Similarly, a female horse and a male donkey, members of the same equine group, can mate, but such a coupling only produces the infertile offspring known as the mule. WEBSTER'S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY 934 (2d ed. 1984). Mating a male horse and a female donkey produces a "hinny." Id. at 664.
FN7. See infra section 11.
FN8. Siino, supra note 5, at 53.
FN9. See infra section III (A).
FN10. See infra section III (B)
FN11. See infra section III (C).
FN12. See infra section II (C).
FN13. See infra note 19.
FN14. See infra section IV.
FN15. 16 U.S.C.A. § 743b (West 1985).
FN16. 7 U.S.C.A. § 2132 (West 1985).
FN17. See infra section IV (A).
FN18. Cle Francis, Storm Clouds Over Hualapai, DOG WORLD, Feb. 1989, at 16. No authority registers hybrids, so an actual number cannot accurately be determined. World News Tonight with Peter Jennings (ABC television broadcast, May 10, 1991) [hereinafter World News Tonight]. The estimated number of hybrids present in the United States ranges from a low of 8,000 to a high 2,000,000. Francis, supra; Jean Seligmann, Caution: Wolf-Dogs Can Be Hazardous, NEWSDAY, Aug. 12, 1991, at 50. Animal control authorities estimate the true number to be approximately 300,000. Seligmann, supra; Steve Garbarino, The Urban Tundra, NEWSDAY, Sept. 23, 1991, at 53. Experts posit that as many as one-half of all animals sold as hybrids are 100% domestic mutts that only look like they are part wolf. Siino, supra note 5, at 55. Average pet owners constitute only a small portion of the population often fooled by look-alike canines. One story recounts a specially trained canine police officer mistaking a cross between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Sheepdog as a Timber wolf and shooting the dog several times. Doug Grow, Police Reaction to Cry of Wolf May Have Been Overkill, STAR TRIB., Oct. 25, 1990, at 1B.
FN19. The news media has recently become attracted to the hybrid controversy
despite the fact that others have viewed hybrids as dangerous for quite
some time. A September 15, 1989, Journal of the American Medical Association
article reported five hybrid attacks resulting in death between the years
1979- 1988. Carolyn Pesce, Hybrid Wolves: Dangerous Breed; Fatalities Spur
Call for Tougher Laws on Canines, USA TODAY, May 4, 1990, at 3A. More recent
A) Little Egg Harbor Township, NJ: A 16-month-old boy lost his arm when he stuck it through a chain link fence which housed a neighbor's hybrid. Joyce Price, Wolf-Dogs Leave Trail of Carnage, WASH. TIMES, Aug. 15, 1991, at A3; Larry McMullen, In Pa., Wolf Hybrid Legally a Wild Animal, PHILA. DAILY NEWS, May 2, 1991; New Jersey Boy Mauled by Wolf-Dog Leaves Hospital, SEATTLE TIMES, May 29,1991, at F1; World News Tonight, supra note 18.
B) East Orange, NJ: A 2-month-old boy was fatally mauled as he slept in his crib when his parents left him unattended in the presence of their pet hybrid. Wolf Kills New Jersey Baby, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 5, 1990, at B2; Price, supra.
C) Staten Island, NY: A 3-year-old boy was mauled by his family's pet hybrid in his backyard. Pet Wolf Beaten to Death in N. Y. After Mauling 3-year-old Boy, CHI. TRIB., May 14, 1989, at C26 [hereinafter Pet wolf]; Dennis Duggan, Animal Rescuer Has Seen Enough, NEWSDAY, May 16, 1989, at 8; The Nation, L.A. TIMES, May 15, 1989, at 2.
D) Wynnehaven Beach, FL: A local animal shelter advertised a hybrid as the pet of the week. The animal escaped from the yard of the new owner. A neighbor found the hybrid and put it in her backyard while she called the number on the animal's tag. The hybrid subsequently attacked and killed her 4-year-old son. Pesce, supra; $425,000 Can't Erase Son's Fatal Mauling, WASH. TIMES, Oct. 15, 1990, at B8; Shelter to Pay Mauled Boy's Family, CHI. TRIB., Oct. 12, 1990, at C16; Price, supra.
E) Spokane, WA: A 5-year-old girl suffered 40 puncture wounds from a friend's hybrid in November. The same girl received 80 stitches after she was attacked by a different hybrid in September of the following year. Washington, USA TODAY, Sept. 19, 1991, at 11 A; Girl, 5, Mauled Again by Wolf-Dog Hybrid, OLYMPIAN, Sept. 19, 1991, at (newspaper clipping on file at the Rutgers Law Journal).
F) Alaska: A hybrid punctured a 4-week-old infant's skull when the child's mother held the baby up to the animal's face for a "kiss" while the animal was whelping. The baby died. Michael O. Fowler, Alaska May Ban Dog-Wolf Hybrids; Pets: Officials Are Concerned About Rare Incidents of Violence and Whether Vaccinations Work. But the Breed Has It's Champions, L.A. TIMES, Sept. 15, 1991, at A24; Price, supra; World News Tonight, supra note 18.
G) Missoula, MT: A 3-year-old girl lost her arm after she stuck it in a chain link kennel which contained hybrids owned by her grandfather. When her grandfather opened the kennel to loosen the animal's grip, it escaped and attacked a 2-year-old girl and her grandmother. Richard Seven, Biting Off Girl's Arm Was Start of Rampage by Hybrid Wolf-Dog -- After Attacking 3-year- old, Pet Injured 2 Others, SEATTLE TIMES, Aug. 13, 1991,. at C4 [hereinafter Rampage]; Price, supra.
H) Whatcom County, W A: An 18-month-old boy lost his arm after he stuck it into chain link kennel which contained the family's pet hybrid. His father defended the animal, stating that it probably felt the child threatened its week-old pup. Richard Seven, Wolf-Dog Got Bad Rap, Says Father -- Pet Hybrid That Bit Off Forearm of His Son 'Wasn't Mean at All', SEATTLE TIMES, May 21, 1991, at A1 [herein after Bad Rap];Seattle,USA TODAY, May 23, 1991 at ___; Price, supra.
I) Otisville, MI: A 2 1/2-year old girl was killed by a tethered hybrid with which she had previously played. The hybrid grabbed the child on the neck and shook her, tearing out her throat and nearly decapitating her. Price, supra; World News Tonight, supra note 18; Erich Klinghammer, Draft Legislation Needed to Control Hybrids and Captive Wolves, WOLVES AND RELATED CANIDS, Summer 1990, at 18-19.
J) Ft. Wayne, IN: A 2-year-old boy climbed over a fence which contained a hybrid and a pit bull. The hybrid fatally mauled the child. Price, supra.
FN20. Jon Anderson, Bones of Contention -- A Smaller Shar-Pei and a Wolf Hybrid Have Added New Wrinkles in the Purebred Dog Society, CHI. TRIB., Jan. 29, 1992, at C1.
FN21. Mary Harper-Bellis, In Defense of Wolf Hybrids, THE LATHAM LETTER,
Summer 1991, at 10; Karen Zwich, Forever Wild -- More Education About Wolves
Would Dry Up Market For Hybrids, SEATTLE TIMES, Aug. 28, 1991, at A7. Dr.
R. Lockwood, Humane Society of United States (HSUS) vice president for
field services, stated that dogs have evolved from 15,000 years of domestication.
Siino, supra note 5, at 60; Ranny Green, Many Experts Frown on Keeping
Wolf Hybrids as Pets, SEATTLE TIMES, Mar. 17, 1991, at B5. Similarly, wolves
have evolved into a wild predatory animal. One regretful hybrid owner and
former breeder stated,
The wolf is first and foremost a formidable predator, and if not even thousands of years of domestication have made him thoroughly safe (as evidenced by the many unsafe dogs we all have known), how can anyone expect to undo in one generation, or several, what nature spent millions perfecting?
Terry Jenkins, How High the Price?, HSUS NEWS, Winter 1991, at 18, 21 (Humane Society of the United States).
FN22. No reports exist of wolves attacking humans in the wild. World News Tonight, supra note 18; Randy Berg, Letters to the Chronicle, S.F. CRONICLE, Jan. 19, 1992, at Sunday Punch 2; WHITE FANG, supra note 1. Contrary to popular belief, hybrids do not make successful guard dogs. Wolves react timidly and cautiously to stimuli which is new or different. In fact, they often display signs of outright fear; "[y]ou many find your hybrid hiding from visitors, urinating, or defecating when a stranger appears," says Steve Kuntz, president of Wolf Haven, a sanctuary for pure wolves. Green, supra note 21, at B5.
FN23. Monty Sloan, Of Wolves, Wolf Hybrids and Children, THE LATHAM LETTER, Summer 1991, at 11; Seligmann, supra note 18, at 50; Pesce, supra note 19; Jonathan Confino, Killer Wolf Hybrid Bred in America, DAILY TEL., May 21, 1991, at 3.
FN24. In all states, whether specifically designated in the state regulations
or not, if a wolf or wolf hybrid causes property damage or harm of any
sort to a human or another person's animal, the owner is liable for the
costs of any damages and possible prosecution by both the victim and prosecuting
The Wildlife Educ. and Research Found., Current State Regulations Pertaining to Wolves and Wolf Hybrids, THE WOLF HYBRID TIMES, April 1991, at 17 (list compiled Feb. 1991) [hereinafter State Regulations]. The Foundation thus suggests that courts will deem hybrids ferae naturae and will hold their owners strictly liable for any harm the animal causes. See infra note 99 and accompanying text. A possessor of a wild animal is subject to liability to another for harm done by the animal to the other, his person, land or chattels, although the possessor has exercised the utmost care to confine the animal or otherwise prevent it from doing harm. . . . This liability is limited to harm that results from a dangerous propensity that is characteristic of wild animals of the particular class or of which the possessor knows or has reason to know.
RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 507 (1977).
a possessor of a domestic animal that he knows or has reason to know has dangerous propensities abnormal to its class is subject to liability for harm done by the animal to another, even though he has exercised the utmost care to prevent the animal from doing the harm. [However, this] liability is limited to harm that results from the abnormally dangerous propensity of which the possessor knows or has reason to know.
RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 509(1977). As such, it doesn't matter whether courts qualify the hybrid as wild or domestic, because in both situations, the owner has reason to know that lupine genes create an animal with wild instincts. The fact that limited taming, training, or domestication has dulled these instincts does not change the fact that the animal is still a wild creature.
FN25. Scott Ian Barry, current vice president of field services for HSUS, has owned a hybrid, and has worked with more than 40 pure wolves since 1972. Garbarino, supra note 18, at 53. Barry calls the chromosomal makeup of wolf hybrids a "genetic cocktail" and adds that their "dispositions are left purely to chance: Jekyll or Hyde?" Id. See also, Seligmann, supra note 18; Confino, supra note 23 (New York ASPCA science adviser states, "When you shake these dice in the genetic can, you can get a very volatile combination."); Pesce, supra note 19 (Wolf researcher Monty Sloan says, "When you breed a wolf and dog together, sometimes it works out fine, and sometimes you end up with an absolute monster.").
FN26. Green supra note 21. Owners cannot discipline, train or housebreak
hybrids. Letter from Miranda Spindel, They're Not House Pets -- Learn the
Facts About Wolf Hybrids, SEATTLE TIMES, Apr. 16, 1991, at A13; World News
Tonight, supra note 18; Pesce, supra note 19. They "chew like crazy" and
"can escape from almost anywhere." Price, supra note 19;Nancy J. Taylor,
The Wolf Hybrid -- Should You or Shouldn't You?, THE LATHAM LETTER, Summer
1991, at 8. See e.g., Karlyn Barker, Athena Rejects Call of the Wild; Wolf
Comes Running at Owner's Howls, WASH. POST, Feb. 17, 1989, at D3 (hybrid
chewed through travel kennel and roamed the nation's capital for a day
before being caught).
The self-proclaimed world's largest hybrid breeding operation asserts that hybrids housebreak themselves, and then contradictorily comments, "they're easily trained if you're willing to work at it." Fowler, supra note 19. Indeed, some hybrids have proven that they can be successfully trained. Owner Linda Greene claims her hybrid excels in obedience training. Letter from Linda Greene, Letterline, USA TODAY, May 16, 1990, at 1 1A. Other hybrids have been trained to lead sled teams for explorers attempting to cross Antarctica. Anastasia Toufexis, To the South Pole by Sled; Six Explorers Try to Cross Antarctica -- The Hard Way, TIME, Dec. 25, 1989, at 73 (reported by Andrea Dorfman/New York).
FN27. While hybrids may seem wild, the food and companionship provided by humans have handicapped two characteristics which are necessary to live in the wild, namely, the ability to hunt for food, and the fear of man. Because they equate man with an easy food source, released hybrids will take to raiding chicken coops and cattle or sheep ranches instead of hunting for the large wild prey favored by pure wolves. This type of behavior encourages ranchers to shoot both hybrids and pure wolves on sight rather than risk damage to their property. Rik Pfaelzer, Please! Do Not Turn Your Hybrid Loose in the Wild, WOLVES AND RELATED CANIDS, Summer 1990, at 20; Wolf-Dog Suspected of Killing Livestock is Shot to Death, PROPRIETARY TO THE UNITED PRESS INT'L 1992, Jan. 8, 1992 (Ohio regional news). Trying to change an animal raised by humans so that it will fear humans is as difficult as trying to make a wild animal trust humans. In Kitchener, Ontario, a man was forced to relinquish one hybrid and two pure wolves to authorities in order to comply with a city ordinance. The Ontario Humane Society then planned to take on the arduous task of teaching the animals how to fend for themselves before releasing them into the wild. Tony Reinhart, Wolves to Receive Job Training: Learning to Hunt First Step to Freedom, VANCOUVER SUN, Sept. 11, 1991, at H7.
FN28. Wolf-Dog Hysteria -- Hybrids Weaken the Strain,SEATTLE TIMES, June 9, 1991, at A19 "It is . . . a shame to dilute the wolf breed. As many people discover that their wolf dog hybrid is too dangerous to keep at home, many animals get released into the wild. As hybrids breed with purebreds, the wolf may lose the characteristics that allow it to survive." Id.
FN29. For example, Idaho enacted a statute entitled "Duties of the Department
of Fish and Game Regarding the Endangered Species Act" which provides:
(1) Since wolf/dog hybridizations are known to exist within Idaho and these hybrids are not protected by the United States endangered species act, a biological evaluation shall be required of the animal to determine species priority before the department of fish and game may take any action in accordance with the United States endangered species act.
IDAHO CODE § 36-715 (1988); Booth, supra note 6. However, the United States Endangered Species Act suggests that hybrids can be treated as pure wolves if: (A) enforcement personnel would have difficulty differentiating between the two, (B) that difficulty of identification would threaten pure wolves and (C) such treatment of hybrids would further the policy of the chapter. 16 U.S.C. § 1533(e) (1988). Some hybrids will be covered by subsection A. See infra notes 42-46 and accompanying text. Others may be covered by subsection B, for instance, when a person keeps a pure wolf but calls it a hybrid. However, wolf experts argue that hybrids definitely do not fall under subsection C. See infra notes 44-47 and accompanying text.
FN30. Seligmann, supra note 18; Jenkins, supra note 21, at 21.
FN31. THE NAT'L ASS'N OF STATE PUB. HEALTH VETERINARIANS, INC., COMPENDIUM OF ANIMAL RABIES CONTROL, 1989 (Virginia Dep't of Health, Office of Epidemiology) [hereinafter NASPHV].
FN32. Francis, supra note 18, at 64.
FN33. Letter from Suzanne R. Jenkins, V.M.D., M.P.H., Chair, Compendium of Animal Rabies Control, 1989 to Robert B. Koch, D.V.M. (Aug. 16, 1988) (on file with the Rutgers Law Journal).
FN36. NASPHV, supra note 31. The pamphlet states: "Vaccination is not recommended since no rabies vaccine is licensed for use in wild animals. It is recommended that wild or exotic animals susceptible to rabies should not be kept as pets. Offspring borne to wild animals bred with domestic dogs or cats will be considered wild animals." Id. at 1. See Francis, supra note 18; Siino, supra note 5; Alice Cantwell, Rabies Found in Raccoons, PROPRIETARY TO THE UNITED PRESS INT'L, Nov. 6, 1989 (New Jersey Distribution).
FN37. The pamphlet advises that:
the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the NASPHV, and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) strongly recommend the enactment of state laws prohibiting the importation, distribution and relocation of wild animals and wild animals crossbred to domestic dogs and cats [and] the enactment of laws prohibiting the distribution or keeping of wild animals as pets.
NASPHV, supra note 31, at 3. Indeed, rabies control requires that "the public . . . be warned not to handle wild animals. . . . [W]ild carnivorous mammals, as well as wild animals cross-bred with domestic dogs and cats, that bite people should be killed" and their "head[s] removed and shipped, under refrigeration, for [rabies] examination by a qualified laboratory designated by the local or state health department." Id. at 4.
FN38. Siino, supra note 5, at 53.
FN41. Id. at 53, 57.
FN42. In fact, the Inland Empire Wolf Association (IEWA), an affiliation of the American Wolf Hybrid Alliance, states its objective as dedication "to the future of the wolf and wolf hybrid as a viable alternative to the domestic dog." Taylor, supra note 26, at 8. The author, Nancy Taylor, serves as the president of IEWA. Id.
FN43. Although dogs descended directly from wolves, the psychology of
the two species vary remarkably. Job Michael Evans, Wolves Behavior/Dog
Psychology, DOG WORLD, Jan. 1984, at 12. Hybrids behave more like wolves
than they do dogs, and as such, an owner must completely understand the
science of wolves. Wolves are far more social than any other canid. CANDACE
SAVAGE, WOLVES 54 (1988). "Although some individuals live singly for periods
of time (the proverbial 'lone wolves'), the usual context of a wolf's life
is a small family group, or pack, that includes mother and father, uncles
and aunts, and siblings. . . . Most wolves live in packs of seven animals
or less." Id.
Within each wolf pack, a hierarchy exists. Id. at 55. The dominant pair, an "alpha" male and an "alpha" female, lead the pack and are the only members to breed. Id. Beneath the alphas follow "a middle class of non-breeding adults, each with its own individual ranking; a lower class of outcasts; and an up-and- coming group of immature animals, those under two years of age." Id. One noted wolf expert, L. David Mech, compares the relationship between a man and his dog to that of an alpha wolf and a low-ranking wolf. Id.
In both situations, the leader must continually guard the top-ranking position. Humans maintain leadership by constantly training and disciplining dogs. Alpha wolves declare and reinforce their superior rank through their bodily stance--by standing tall with ears and tail erect and by freely staring into the eyes of other wolves. Id. at 56. Subordinate wolves cringe, avoid the gaze of the alpha, and keep their tails tucked and ears slicked back. Id. The alpha wolf maintains the even temper and cohesiveness of the group by receiving constant gestures of active submission. Id. The pack declares its joint affinity for the dominant animal by howling, wagging tails and crowding around so that they all can lick and nibble the alpha's muzzle. Id.
Lower ranked wolves challenge their superiors when they do not actively submit. Minor disputes or tussles are usually settled quickly through the use of threats (snarls and growls) or body contact (biting). Id. at 73, 77. Only rarely will serious injury or death result and the alpha will not normally lose the high position. Id. at 56. Indeed, "quarrels are soon forgotten. Combatants may even lick one another's wounds." Id. at 81. However, when the hierarchy is disrupted by the loss of a pack member, the pack's social system breaks down and turmoil erupts because the wolves have such personal relationships and form such strong bonds with one another. Id. at 61.
Besides the hierarchal pack structure, a hybrid owner must understand the nomadic quality of wolves. Wolves do not wander aimlessly, but they do travel constantly throughout their claimed territory. Id. at 57. While a wolf territory of 20 square miles in the wild would be classified as small, no average person can provide that amount of space. Id. Lastly, an owner must fully consider the wolf's vocal communications. "[W]olves . . . strengthen the amicable feeling between themselves and other members of the pack" by participating in group howls. Id. at 59. "A typical howling bout lasts just over a minute, with a pause of at least twenty minutes between bouts." Id. While the owner may refer to the howls as song, neighbors will raise claims of nuisance and the owner will have no way to stop the music.
FN44. Siino, supra note 5, at 53.
FN45. Siino, at 54.
FN46. Francis, supra note 18, at 66. The author recounts how persons
involved in the black market steal wolf pups from their dens in Alaska
and smuggle them into the lower 48 states by passing them off as Alaskan
Malamute pups. Id. Alaska Fish and Game authorities have a difficult time
stopping this because of the state's large geographic area. Id.
Any person involved in the taking of Alaskan pure wolves is in violation of Alaska state game laws. Then, knowingly transporting these same wolves across state lines for resale at black market prices constitutes a felony sale, and the person is in violation of Federal law under the Lacey Act [16 U.S.C.A. § 3371-3378 (West Supp.1991)], a violation which carries a maximum penalty of $20,000 and five years in prison. Id. at 66. Additionally, the Endangered Species Act provides civil penalties of not more than $25,000 for each violation of the § 1538 prohibited acts, while criminal violations of that section yield fines of not more than $50,000 and/or one year in jail. 16 U.S.C. § 1540 (West Supp.1991). See also Barbara A. Serrano, Sale of Crossbred Wolf-Dogs as Pets Setting Off Howls, SEATTLE TIMES, Apr. 9, 1991, at C1 (federal authorities have a hard time catching wolf dealers because authorities cannot differentiate between wolves, hybrids, and dogs).
FN47. Siino, supra note 5, at 54.
FN48. See supra note 19.
FN49. SAVAGE, supra note 43, at 17-29 (1988) (chapter entitled "Myths & Monsters").
FN50. Paul C. Soffron operates one of the few wolf educational facilities in the country. Jordana Hart, Dancing With Wolves; Ipswich Nonprofit Group Aims to Protect and Preserve a Misunderstood Species, BOSTON GLOBE, NOV. 10, 1991, at 11.
FN51. See supra note 1.
FN52. See supra note 1.
FN53. See supra note 18.
FN54. Prices for hybrids range from $75 to $1,500 depending on the "percentage" of wolf in the hybrid. Francis, supra note 18, at 63-64; Letter from Dottie Prendergast, Letters: Wolf Hybrids, MALAMUTE Q., Spring 1990, at 6-7. Dogs that have wolf-like characteristics can command the high price that hybrids do, but the breeders are not burdened by the state or federal regulations which pertain to wolves and hybrids. ABC news correspondent Roger Caras suggested that these deceptive breeders may actually be the most responsible parties in the hybrid trade because although these dogs resemble hybrids, they have gentle, inoffensive dispositions, and behave like house dogs because, in reality, they are house dogs. World News Tonight, supra note 18. These breeders need only to be concerned with civil law claims of misrepresentation and fraud, as opposed to violations of state regulations and bans, or the potential liability for selling an inherently dangerous animal.
FN55. Irresponsible breeders may cross a wolf with an aggressive dog,
or a dog suffering from hip dysplasia (a hereditary malady which
is similar to acute arthritis and is commonly experienced by breeds of
large dogs). Siino, supra note 5, at 60. The United States Wolf Hybrid
Association (USWHA) seeks to combat irresponsible ownership and breeding
practices by refusing to register animals crossed with traditionally aggressive
breeds. Siino, supra note 5, at 59. Through their registry, USWHA standardizes
the appearance of hybrids by controlling the breed of dog from which they
can be bred. Id. They also discourage backyard breeding, and emphasize
the necessity of neutering all hybrid pets. Id. at 58-59.
Additionally, irresponsible breeders or owners may not socialize the pups, resulting in many complex problems for the animals later on. Due to the complex nature of the social structure of the wolf pack, a hybrid pup must bond with its owner early in its life in order for it to consider its owner as the dominant, or "alpha" wolf. Id. at 60. Preferably, the owner will raise the pup from birth. A responsible owner properly socializes the hybrid, discourages aggressive behavior, and keeps the animal under control and away from any unwary citizen.
FN56. THE ALASKAN MALAMUTE CLUB OF AMERICA, THE ALASKAN MALAMUTE, AN INTRODUCTION (1984). Indeed, the breed standard describes Malamutes as being "of various colors, but usually wolfish grey or black and white. . . . The eyes have a "wolflike" appearance by their position, but the expression is soft and indicates an affectionate disposition." Id. at 17 (emphasis added). See also, Siino, Wolf Hybrids, DOG FANCY, Jan. 1990, at 51, 54.
FN57. Siino, supra note 5, a5 55.
FN58. Virginia Devaney, Can We Talk? The Wolf Hybrid = Disaster, MALAMUTE Q., Fall 1989, at 51; Margaret Cleek, Danger On The Rise!--Part I, PURE-BRED DOGS/ AMERICAN KENNEL GAZETTE, Aug. 1991, at 94, 95 [hereinafter Cleek, Part I]; Margaret Cleek, Danger On The Rise!--Part II, PURE-BRED DOGS/AMERICAN KENNEL GAZETTE, Oct. 1991, at 111 [hereinafter Cleek, Part II].
FN59. Cleek, Part II, supra note 58, at 111.
FN60. Devaney, supra note 58, at 52.
FN61. Unfortunately, supposed animal experts often mistakenly identify canines. E.g., Cleek, Part I, supra note 58, at 96 (shelter workers lack breed knowledge despite the fact the label they give a dog may control important future decisions); Nan Weitzman, Welcome To America--The Land Of Dog Laws, GOOD DOG!, Feb. 1991, at 14, 15 (seven year veteran animal control officer whose job entailed enforcing breed specific law did not understand the terminology used to describe breeds); Grow, supra note 18 (Minneapolis canine officer mistook mutt for Timber wolf); Jacqueline Fraser, Mistaken Identity, DOG FANCY, Feb. 1991, at 25 (police officer responding to pit bull complaint stood on roof of car, peered over owner's wooden fence, and fired two shots, killing an innocent Boxer).
FN62. One veteran Malamute enthusiast falsely classified a 70% wolf,
30% Malamute hybrid pup as a pure Malamute. Devaney, supra note 58 at 51.
David Klinger of the federal Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland remarked
that "physical similarities can be such, that a scientist would literally
have to take a wolf apart to determine its purity of breed." Serrano, supra
note 46. It follows that hybrids with low levels wolf genes will look more
like dogs, and authorities will have more of a problem determining whether
the animal qualifies as a hybrid or a dog. Likewise, hybrids with higher
levels of wolf genes will look more like wolves, and authorities will experience
corresponding difficulties in determining whether the animal is a hybrid
or a wolf.
One Malamute owner who also owns hybrids acknowledges the similarities in both animals, but argues that she, her vet, and other Malamute-owning friends can easily tell them apart. Mollie Peterson, Hybrids: I Love My Malamutes Too, MALAMUTE Q., Winter 1989-90, at 38, 40. The future, however, holds hope for all those who cannot distinguish these canines as easily. "The Correlation Genetics Corporation . . . investigate[s] the molecular DNA basis of genetic diseases in dogs . . . [and], as a result of all this work, . . . now has the unique capability to identify the genetic profile of individual dogs and confirm genetic relationships with other dogs." Open letter from Virginia Devaney, Alaskan Malamute Protection League (on file with the Rutgers Law Journal). According to Devaney, "several researchers and veterinarians have indicated there is a possibility of a DNA 'fingerprint' that will identify a pure bred dog from an animal with wolf blood." Id.
FN63. 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-44, supra note 2.
FN64. See infra notes 69-82 and accompanying text.
FN65. See infra notes 83-84 and accompanying text.
FN66. See infra notes 85-89 and accompanying text.
FN67. See infra notes 93-106 and accompanying text.
FN68. See infra notes 107-111 and accompanying text.
FN69. N.Y. ENVTL. CONSERV. LAW § 11-0511 (McKinney Supp.1991).
A 1985 amendment specifically extended applicability, in relation to the
possession and transportation of wildlife, to the "wolfdog." 1985 Amendment
Subd. 1. L. 1985, c. 539, § 1, eff. Sep. 1, 1985.
According to a compiled list, Connecticut, Illinois, and Maryland also ban hybrids. State Regulations, supra note 24, at 18-22. In February 1991, the Wildlife Education and Research Foundation compiled this list of Current State Regulations Pertaining to Wolves and Wolf Hybrids. Id. The Foundation drew the list from responses received directly from the various state Fish and Game Departments. Id. at 17. The list applies to state regulations and in some instances, to the local, municipal, or county regulations which override them. Id. The Foundation warns that "[i]n ALL instances, the Federal regulations regarding possession of pure wolves (i.e., an endangered species) will apply, whether they are actively enforced or not." Id. Indeed, 16 U.S.C. § 1535(f) deals with conflicts between federal and state laws, and permits states to act in a more restrictive manner than the federal Act, but prohibits the states from acting in a less restrictive manner in their treatment of endangered species.
At least one news reporter has added South Carolina to the list, and it is commonly written that five states ban hybrids. Pesce, supra note 19. However, a bill to amend section 50-11-1765 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, plainly prohibiting hybrids, did not pass.
FN70. Letter from Monty Sloan, Wolf Behavior Specialist, to Barbara Kramek (Sept. 30, 1991) (discussing recommendations formed during the Wolf Hybrid Legislation Workshop, Jun. 20-23, 1990) (on file with the Rutgers Law Journal). Sloan feels that the "best method to solve the problems of exotic ownership is not to work against those who are negligent, but to work with those who are not, and use their influence to correct problems internally." Id.
FN71. One New York City resident keeps a pack of hybrids on the roof of his building. Garbarino, supra note 18.
FN72. For a full discussion of pit bull bans, see Russell G. Donaldson, Annotation, Validity and Construction of Statute, Ordinance, or Regulation Applying to Specific Dog Breeds, Such as "Pit Bulls" or "Bull Terriers", 80 A.L.R. 4th 70 (1989). See generally, Diane K. Hale, Note, Man Bites Dog With Ohio's Vicious Dog Statute, 37 CLEV. ST. L.REV. 119 (1989); Lynn Marmer, Comment, The New Breed of Municipal Dog Control Laws: Are They Constitutional?, 53 U. CIN.L.REV. 1067 (1984); Special Section, Vicious-Dog Legislation -- Controlling the Pit Bull, 13 U. DAYTON L.REV. 267 (1988); Michael A. Oropallo, Comment, Taking The Bite Out Of Pit Bull Attacks: Is There An Answer?, 15 OHIO N.U. L.REV. 83 (1988); Julie A. Thorne, Note, If Spot Bites The Neighbor, Should Dick And Jane Go To Jail?, 39 SYRACUSE L.REV. 1445 (1988).
FN73. Hale, supra note 72, at 131.
FN74. Id. at 132-35.
FN75. Id. at 136.
FN77. Id. at 138-39.
FN78. Id. at 140-41.
FN79. Donaldson, supra note 72, at 75.
FN80. Joyce Koley, A Cub in Your Life -- Advice from an Experienced Hybrid Breeder, WOLVES AND RELATED CANIDS, Summer 1990, at 32.
FN81. In California, the Fish and Game Department declared second generation
(F2) hybrids legal in the state and regulated them under domestic dog jurisdiction
(animal regulation). Letter from Deborah M. Warrick, Editor/Publisher of
WOLVES AND RELATED CANIDS to Barbara Kramek (Oct. 8, 1991) (on file with
the Rutgers Law Journal). For further definition of "F2," see infra note
110. The writer tells of how she followed the direction and regulation
of the Fish and Game Department only to have the local animal control officers
tell her that she may not legally keep her F2 hybrids. Id.
The entire process is totally unfair. Fish and Game passes a law, but no one abides by it. I'm a reputable person: I do not breed, and I contain my animals in a wolf-proof pen, double-fenced to prevent accidental children from wandering within reach. I publish an international magazine educating people about these animals. Yet I'm harassed by county officials. . . . I'm at a loss as to what to try next. I now warn all hybrid owners to lie, lie and lie some more. Never admit to owning a hybrid or wolf, because there's no proof (no blood test to prove the amount of wolf in a dog). If that's the way the counties want it, then they shall have it. People will go underground, there will be more illegal puppymillers out there selling to anyone with a buck. . . . The counties are slitting their own throats and are causing the very problem they are trying to avoid; uncontrolled hybrid ownership and puppymills.
Id. at 2 (emphasis added).
FN82. A California couple suggested this solution after their 9-month
old hybrid pup escaped and bit an animal control officer as the officer
tried to muzzle the animal. Wendy & Mark Hansen, Hybrids Legal In California?
Not In Chico, WOLVES AND RELATED CANIDS, Summer 1990, at 21. Chico county
declared the hybrid a wild animal and instructed the Hansens to comply
with appropriate local regulations stating that an owner must keep the
hybrid on 3 foot leash, muzzled, or in an approved kennel. Id. The Hansens,
faced with the pressures of these regulations and a $260 to $1,500 fine
because their hybrid bit someone, decided to euthanize the puppy. Id. They
now recommend that hybrid owners:
1. Never admit to having a wolf hybrid if questioned by animal regulation officers. License your animal as a German Shepherd, Malamute mix.
2. Do not tell even your best friend that your dog has even a little wolf in him. The word may get around and you may be in for trouble.
FN83. TENN. CODE ANN. §§ 70-4-401 - 70-4-406 (1991). Section
70-4-403 classifies all species of wolves as Class I wildlife. The Tennessee
wildlife resources commission further defines wolves as all species except
domestic dog hybrids which are less than 75% wolf. The term 75% wolf
implies the offspring of a first generation hybrid, 50% dog/50% wolf, and
a pure wolf. State Regulations, supra note 24, at 24. "No person shall
purchase or hold live wildlife in captivity without first obtaining the
appropriate permit. The annual permits and fees for holding live wildlife
are . . . (1)(A) Personal Possession. Class I: $150/animal or $1,000 facility.
. . ." TENN. CODE ANN. § 70-4-404(d) (1991). A personal possession
permit means a noncommercial type permit issued to private citizens for
ownership or possession of nonbreeding animals in small numbers. TENN.
CODE ANN. § 70-4-402 (1991) (emphasis added). Hence, owners who do
not neuter their hybrids or administer birth control drugs will have to
obtain commercial propagator permits which cost $1,000 per facility. TEN.
CODE ANN. § 70-4-404 (1991). Owners should not consider separation
a valid birth control option because separation of hybrids from their pack
may disrupt the hierarchical pack structure and may psychologically damage
the mates. See supra note 43.
In order to obtain a permit, an exotic animal owner must give documentary evidence of the name and address of the supplier, and the date of acquisition. TEN. CODE ANN. § 70-4-401(b) (1991). This practice discourages black market trading, provides a means for catching violators of the Endangered Species Act, and establishes evidence of the distribution chains which courts may later hold liable for the sale of the inherently dangerous animals. Tennessee specifically denies liability, holding the owner liable for an animal that escapes and causes harm, but it is unclear who would take responsibility for an injury that occurred while the animal was properly contained. TENN. CODE ANN. § 70-4- 406 (1991).
Additionally, the owner must satisfy certain personal conditions to gain a permit:
A) The applicant must be at least twenty one (21) years of age; B) . . . must have at least two (2) years of experience in the handling or care of the Class I species for which the applicant is applying, or, in the alternative, must take a written examination developed and administered by the Tennessee wildlife resources agency evidencing basic knowledge of the habits and requirements in regard to proper diet, health care, exercise needs and housing of the species . . .; C) . . . Facilities for Class I animals may not be on premises of less than one acre . . . and may not be located in a multi- unit dwelling or trailer park; and D) The applicant must have a plan for the quick and safe recapture of the wildlife, or if recapture is impossible, for the destruction of any animal held under the permit."
TENN. CODE ANN. § 70-4-404(c)(2) (1991).
After the applicant's abilities pass muster, he must prove that he has the requisite facilities to properly contain the animal. Some of the quite extensive caging requirements include: (1) All stationary facilities must be surrounded by a perimeter fence (secondary barrier) of at least eight feet (8') in height and a minimum of four feet (4') from the cage holding the animal, or such other fencing, building, or other protection of the enclosure where the animal is kept sufficient to prevent unauthorized public entry or direct physical contact between the animal and the public.
(2) All cages shall be well braced and securely fastened to the floor or in the ground and shall utilize metal clamps, or braces of equivalent strength as that prescribed for cage construction.
(3) All cage entrances shall have double safety doors, one (1) of which only opens to the inside. These doors must remain locked at all times when unattended with chains and locks of sufficient strength to prevent the animal from breaking open the door if highly excited.
(4) All cages shall be constructed with a den. . . .
. . . .
(8) Restraint by tethering cannot be used as a means to hold an inherently dangerous animal in captivity. . . .
(9) All animals shall be kept in cages which meet the following minimum criteria, or shall be housed in buildings in which the strength of the walls, and the restraints affixed to all windows, doors and other means of entry or exit in effect meet such minimum criteria: (B) Canidae. All cages shall be constructed of and be covered at the top with eleven and one-half (11 1/2) gauge steel chain link or equivalent, with tension bars and metal clamps to prevent the escape of the animal; provided, that animals may be held in facilities without a top where the sides of the cage are a minimum of nine feet (9') high with the top three feet (3') of fencing inturned at a forty-five degree (45 <<degrees>>) angle; . . .
TENN. CODE ANN. § 70-4-405 (g) (1991).
FN84. Hansen, supra note 82. Any amount of time a hybrid spends away from his "pack" -- whether human or otherwise -- has a detrimental effect on the hybrid's socialization skills. For a further discussion of pack structure and socialization, see supra note 43. After a prolonged period of isolated confinement, a hybrid may not readily re-adapt to the previous social structure where the owner stands as the dominant leader and may aggressively challenge the owner's authority. Similarly, isolation may cause the hybrid to fear humans.
FN85. New Jersey defines "dog" as "any dog or dog hybrid." N.J. STAT. ANN. § 4:19-18 (West Supp.1991). As such, hybrid regulation falls under the State's requirements on owners of vicious or potentially dangerous dogs. N.J. STAT. ANN. § 4:19-17 (West Supp.1991).
FN86. "The panel shall declare the dog vicious if . . . the dog: (1)
killed a person or caused serious bodily injury . . .; or (2) has engaged
in dog fighting activities. . . ." N.J. STAT. ANN. § 4:19-22 (West
The panel shall declare a dog to be potentially dangerous if it finds that the dog:
(1) caused bodily injury . . . to a person during an unprovoked attack, and poses a serious threat of bodily injury or death to a person, or
(2) killed another domestic animal, and
(a) poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to a person; or
(b) poses a threat of death to another domestic animal, or
(3) has been trained, tormented, badgered, baited or encouraged to engage in unprovoked attacks upon persons or domestic animals."
N.J. STAT. ANN. § 4:19-23 (West Supp.1991).
FN87. The effect of the New Jersey law is to allow 'one free bite' since the animal has to cause bodily harm, kill another animal, or be trained to attack in order for the panel to declare the animal potentially dangerous. See supra note 85-86 and accompanying text. One free bite for a hybrid might mean the death or dismemberment of a child. See supra note 19 and accompanying text.
FN88. Hybrids will even escape dangerous dog laws drafted with preventive measures in mind. Statutes incorporating terms such as "menacing behavior," "predisposition," and "threatening fashion" will not affect the hybrid who appears to be well behaved, but suddenly is presented with a stimulus that triggers its latent predatory instinct. Cf. Hale, supra note 72, at 146-47 (proposing a statute revision that takes a preventive stance by declaring dogs dangerous when they consistently exhibit certain types of behavior).
FN89. See supra notes 31-37 and accompanying text.
FN90. Fowler, supra note 19 and accompanying text.
FN91. In Mat-Su Borough, Alaska, officials continue to avoid responsibility for hybrid control. Borough Stays Out of Wolf Business, PALMER FRONTIERSMAN, Sept. 4. 1991. The State Department of Fish and Game will regulate only purebred wolves, and animal control regulations pertain only to domesticated animals. Id. "The 'unpredictable nature' of offspring of wild and domesticated animals makes domestication questionable." Id. (quoting memo to Borough Assembly from assistant borough attorney Holly Montague). Furthermore, animal control will not include hybrids in their jurisdiction because of the lack of a USDA approved rabies vaccination. Id.
FN92. Siino, supra note 5, at 60 (quoting Randy Lockwood of the Humane Society for the United States.
FN93. Bruce A. Levin & Michael Spak, Lions & Lionesses, Tigers & Tigresses, Bears & . . . Other Animals: Sellers' Liability for Dangerous Animals, 58 NOTRE DAME L.REV. 537, 544 (1983).
FN94. "Wolf Haven, a wolf sanctuary and research center in Tenino, Washington, turns down more than 300 hybrids a year." Siino, supra note 5, at 54. "Wildlife sanctuaries are teeming with hybrids that have been abused and abandoned. This is only a minute percentage of the hybrids disposed of and mistreated each year." Id. See also Jenkins, supra note 21, at 21.
FN95. Recently, a case was filed in New Jersey after a toddler was maimed by a hybrid when the child stuck his hand through a chain link fence which separated his yard from his neighbor's. New Jersey/Metro News in Brief -- Parents Sue Owners of Dog That Ripped Off Boy's Arm, PHILA. INQUIRER, Nov. 24, 1991, at B2. The neighbor's hybrid grabbed hold of the child's arm, and as the child's babysitter tried to rescue the boy, the hybrid severed the limb. Id. Unfortunately, doctors could not successfully reattach the arm. Id. Based on theories of negligence, failure to warn and the inherently dangerous nature of the animal, the parents filed suit in state court against the owners, breeders, babysitter, and a veterinarian who cared for the hybrid. Id.
FN96. Donald H. Clifford & Kay Ann Green, Chief, PET VETERINARIAN, Sept.-Oct. 1991, at 19, 25.
FN97. Both a deputy warden and a sheriff's deputy shot a hybrid that attacked a child in Florida before an animal control officer finally killed the animal by injecting a lethal barbiturate. Id. at 25. E.g., Rampage, supra note 19. (stepfather of injured child shot hybrid kept as grandfather's pet); Pet Wolf, supra note 19 (boyfriend of child's mother fatally clubbed family's hybrid to free the child from its clutches).
FN98. One man defended the hybrid that bit off his son's arm after the child stuck his hand through a fence that contained the beast. Seven, Bad Rap, supra note 19. "I just don't think the breed should get a bad name over this. It was a tragedy, but a freak accident." Id. The father has decided to install double fences if he continues to keep hybrids as pets. Id.
FN99. "Of a wild nature or disposition. Animals which are by nature wild are so designated, by way of distinction from such as are naturally tame, the latter being called 'domitae naturae.' BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 619 (6th ed. 1990).
FN100. Hays v. Miller, 43 So. 818 (Ala. 1907), which holds the owner of a seemingly tame wolf liable for injuries inflicted after the plaintiff teased and fretted over the wolf.
FN101. "Tamed and domesticated animals." BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 964 (6th ed. 1990).
FN102. Levin and Spak, supra note 93, at 545.
FN103. 4 AM. JUR. ANIMALS 2d § 83(1962). See Vredenburg v. Behan, 33 La. Ann. 627 (1881) (owner liable when pet bear fatally mauls man); Briley v. Mitchell, 115 So.2d 851 (La. 1959) (strict and absolute liability applies to owner of pet deer when stag attacks police officer trying to recapture it).
FN104. 4 AM. JUR. ANIMALS 2d § 83 (1962).
FN105. Levin & Spak, supra note 93, at 553.
FN107. Devaney, supra note 58, at 52. The author suggests that Malamute breeders revise their contracts to include paragraphs prohibiting the use of puppies or dogs in hybrid breeding programs. Id. Even this practice, however, will not prove completely satisfactory since "it may be very difficult to enforce without retaining a co-ownership, and even then you can only challenge the registry, which is outside the jurisdiction of the AKC [American Kennel Club]." Id.
FN108. West Coast Wolf Hybrid Assoc., Inc. announces such a commitment. Wolf And Other Wildlife Organizations, WOLVES AND RELATED CANIDS, Summer 1990, at 60, 61 [hereinafter Organizations]. The California Wolf Hybrid Club (CWHC) encourages "solid, no-nonsense, committed working organization[s] . . . [who] must go to bat with . . . Fish and Game Commissioners and local animal control authorities." Francis, supra note 18, at 64 (quoting CWHC spokesman Richard Porter). The club spokesman urges that clubs identify themselves as active, permanent organizations voicing opposition to puppy mills, and pursuing abusers within the wolf hybrid community. Id. "Having better communication lines into these problems than most government sources, simply because we work with them so much, clubs and organizations can be extremely effective." Id. Such a commitment could prove extremely effective because a significant number of private wolf and wolf hybrid organizations exist. Organizations, supra, at 60- 61 (list provided a total of forty groups).
FN109. Siino, supra note 5, at 59. Dr. Erich Klinghammer, a wolf expert, called for a conference to draft uniform guidelines that could serve as a sensible model for adoption nationwide by state legislatures. Klinghammer, supra note 19. Members of the United States Wolf Hybrid Association and Iowolfers gathered at the Wolf Hybrid Legislation Workshop where they attempted to improve Michigan House Bill # 5285 -- designed to control and ultimately prevent the possession of wolf hybrids. Letter from Monty Sloan, Wolf Behavior Specialist, to Barbara Kramek (Sept. 30, 1991) (on file with the Rutgers Law Journal).
FN110. Developed at the workshop, the recommendations for the control
and regulation of privately owned exotic animals, including wolves and
wolf-dog hybrids, are extensive. WOLF HYBRID LEGISLATION WORKSHOP, RECOMMENDATIONS
(1990) (packet available from Wolf Park, Battle Ground, IN). The twenty-one
pages serve to: 1) regulate the possession, breeding, and certain other
transactions related to specific exotic animals; 2) prescribe the powers
and duties of certain state agencies, officials, and other persons, 3)
provide standards for the care of exotic animals, and 4) prescribe
penalties and provide remedies. Id. at 1.
While the recommendations are comprehensive and well reasoned, problems arise when authorities attempt to define "wolf hybrid."
When a pure wolf is crossed with a pure dog, the resulting offspring are F1, or first generation [hybrid] pups. Each pup acquires exactly one-half of its parents' genetic makeup. When you cross an F1 pup with another F1, the resulting offspring are F2, or second generation [hybrid] animals. The problem with this formula is as follows: While F1 pups all acquire exactly one-half of each of their parents' genes, F2 pups do not. Some pups may look like pure dogs, some may look like pure wolves, and other may look like wolf/hybrids.
Letter from Deborah M. Warrick, Editor/Publisher, WOLVES AND RELATED CANIDS, to Barbara Kramek (Oct. 8, 1991) (on file with the Rutgers Law Journal). See also THE INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER, WOLF CONTENT IN THE HYBRID (call 1 -800-475-6666 for information packet).
To combat identification problems, the recommendations provide for a review board made up of state and local agencies, the USDA, and industry peers to determine whether an animal can be categorized as a wolf hybrid. If the board determines that the animal exhibits "primary wolf characteristics" or the owner represented it, or registered it as a wolf hybrid, then the animal would fall within the coverage of the regulations. See WOLF HYBRID LEGISLATION WORKSHOP, RECOMMENDATIONS, supra, at 2. Consider, however, the lack of training of some governmental officials in this area. Are there really enough wolf experts to sit on such boards and make such subjective determinations? Concerning the representation or registration of canines as wolf hybrids, one must not forget the impetus for hybrid owners to lie in order to avoid a hybrid ban or animal regulation.
FN111. Such efforts often compel a legislative response. The strong backing of the Washington Humane Society helped D.C. Council member Jim Nathanson (D-Ward 3) introduce a wolf-dog ban. Rene Sanchez, D.C. Council Unleashes a Debate on Wolf Dogs; Proposed Ban Sparks a 3-Hour Dogfight, WASH. POST, Jan. 10, 1992, at B3.
FN112. WOLF HYBRID LEGISLATION WORKSHOP, RECOMMENDATIONS, supra note 110.
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