The Dire Wolf Project
  created by the National American Alsatian Breeders Association

American Alsatian ...
domesticating history.

Wolfdog Hybrid DNA and the Law

Dire Wolf Project - Smokey - DireWolf Dog - American Alsatian Dog

Smokey - DireWolf Dog euthanized by Animal Control

 

As the Dire Wolf Project comes closer to achieving wolf-like traits in our dogs, it is important to consider the welfare of our breed in regards to how it is perceived by others who may be unfamiliar with the fact that we adamantly reject the notion of breeding wolves or wolf hybrids into a domesticated dog. Some who do not take the time to investigate may mistakenly believe that a particularly wolfie looking American Alsatian dog has wolf content and may therefore be deemed a wolfdog on its looks alone. This could not be farther from the truth, but the perception from the public and those in a position of authority may not care about the truth that our dogs have absolutely no wolf DNA. Instead those concerned individuals may merely operate on pure emotional disgust stemming from a bias against people who own wolves or wolfdogs of any content or percentage. Unfortunately, one American Alsatian dog was euthanized recently after it bit a pug who had charged aggressively at him. He was released willingly by his owner to the authorities for a ten day quarantine, but nine days into the dog's stay, the authorities killed the dog apparently due to the deceitful word of a neighbor that the dog was a wolf. There was no hearing and no one looked into whether the alegations were true. Those in authority apparently thought it their right to euthanize the dog based on the sole word of another. If this can happen to a dog that has no wolf content, imagine what fate may arise for those dogs who do indeed have wolf content by DNA. 

In fact, court cases have now begun to utilize DNA evidence against wolfdogs and wolfdog breeders. In one court case, a geneticist working at Embark, recently stated that a wolfdog had such a high percentage of wolf that it could essentially be said to be a wolf. The geneticist clearly states, "The results of the DNA testing conclusively display that the canines under question are irrefutably gray wolves." However, the breeder of these wolfdogs has a different perspective. She states that "They most certainly are domestic animals and are certainly not wolves and shouldn't be confused as such." Now, how can she claim that such a negligible amount of dog ancestry according to DNA testing must not be confused with a wolf? Well, according to US law any mix of wolf and dog is a domestic animal. As quoted by Animal Law Source, "The Federal Animal Welfare Act, (7 U.S.C. 54, AWA), enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, defines hybrids as 'domestic animals' and regulates them like any other domestic animal." Therefore, unless the DNA report says 100% wolf, it's a domestic dog. That is the argument. 

Now, we see two sides of a very confused coin. On the one hand, a pure dog by DNA testing that merely has some wolfish traits can be euthanized by the simple suggestion that it is a wolf and on the other hand, a nearly pure wolf by DNA testing is argued by wolfdog owners and breeders as being a domestic dog under the rights of the law and should not be treated as a wild species. How did we get this lopsided in our thinking? Clearly, the laws in the United States of America need some refining or updating to accomodate the new ability for science to determine just how much of a canine is a wolf or is not a wolf. No wonder there is so much confusion in the general public. If wolfdog owners and breeders fight for even negligible traces of dog according to DNA evidence to be considered in a court of law and domesticated dog owners who have wolf-like dogs without any trace of wolf are not even allowed to present their DNA evidence, what is the public to believe? Is a very high content wolfdog to be considered a domestic dog and a wolf-like domestic dog to be considered a wolf?

 

Know your rights. To learn more, read this article:
What to Do When Animal Control Comes Knocking

 

written by: Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT

September 19, 2018