Legislation and Health Care
The current trend in this country is to regulate the ownership of wolf hybrids. This is being done at State, county and city levels. Although this may prevent a few individuals from casually acquiring a hybrid or purchasing a pup from their local paper on a whim, in the long run such legislation seems to be doing little to curtail ownership. Legislative bans may also prevent people from being properly educated about the animals needs and thus create a potential problem. Legislation does have the effect of driving people underground. Both those within areas where the animals are currently regulated, and those living in areas where a fear of such regulation exists, many wolfdog owners are claiming that their animals are just dogs.
Bans on the ownership of hybrids in effect might curtail ownership to a limited extent, but would have the following possible negative results:
- Make it difficult for owners to communicate ideas and get needed help.
- Veterinary care might suffer — animals may not get properly vaccinated.
- Loss of reputable owners/breeders while those who don’t care or worry about legitimacy continue.
- Makes it difficult/impossible to do anything positive (i.e. education) with the animal.
- It won’t stop hybrid ownership. Prohibition does not work in this country. Even in states where hybrids are banned, their existence, propagation and importation continues unabated.
- In a few cases, wolfdogs were advertized as mix-breed dogs due to local legislation against owning and advertising the sale of hybrids. They were sold to individuals who were looking for a dog, not a hybrid, and this led to bad results for the animal.
- If hybrids are outlawed, only outlaws will have hybrids.
Currently about a dozen states have enacted legislation which greatly restricts, or in a few cases outright bans, the ownership of hybrids. However, the numbers of animals owned by individuals seems to be fairly evenly distributed across the U.S., including the regulated states. In most cases this is because, despite the existence of a law, little to no provision was made to deal with individual situations or the animals themselves once confiscated. Wolf Park has received numerous calls from local agencies regarding animals which were confiscated. These often were perfectly friendly, outgoing animals whose only “crime” was existence. Although some animals may make it to one of the many wolf hybrid rescue facilities in the country, these facilities are being inundated with calls for help and are filled to capacity. All too many of these animals end up euthanized.
Perhaps a better solution would be to enact regulations which would educate rather than regulate. Many individuals decline to get a hybrid once they learn about the responsibilities, potential problems and dangers involved. Those who do get an animal generally have a better understanding and are therefore usually more successful in giving the animal an adequate, safe home. Regulation should not focus on the banning of ownership of these animals, but should direct its power to the underlying problem of the breeding and sales by individuals who produce far more pups than could ever be placed in “good” homes. Puppy-mill operations have long been a problem with “fad” breeds of dogs, and some are now creating serious problems with wolf hybrids.
The effectiveness of current rabies vaccines on wolves and wolf hybrids is highly controversial and is still under debate. In some cases, legislation has been based on the lack of a recognized vaccine. Among wolves and wolf hybrids only one case of a rabies vaccine failure is known, Jay, et. al. (1994), and that was of an animal which only received one inoculation. Rabies vaccine challenge tests which were conducted in dogs, actually only one breed, beagels, showed that the first innoculation is not 100% effective.
Although no challenge tests has been conducted on wolves or wolfdogs, the Wildlife Education and Research Foundation is attempting to secure official USDA approval and licensing of a rabies vaccine for use in wolves and wolf hybrids. Another organization, the Wolf Dog Coalition is gathering data for all vaccines so that wolves and dogs can be accepted as one species for the purposes of vaccine approval. This acceptance would benefit all captive wolves, including those in zoos and wildlife parks.
Clinical evidence does exist to support the current vaccine’s effectiveness in wolves and hybrids. Titer levels in captive wolves and wolfdogs are similar to those in dogs. A number of vaccinated animals have been exposed to the rabies virus and survived. One notable example occurred at the Folsom City Zoo, California. A rabid skunk was killed by four wolves. The wolves had been previously inoculated and were re-vaccinated against the disease and survived with no symptoms of the disease.
Quality of Life
Social Testing & Predation
|Socialization & Medical Care
Are Wolves and Hybrids Trainable?
Legislation & Health Care
Why Have A Wolf or Wolfdog?