An effort by an Orange County supervisor to spare the life of a wolf-dog hybrid that once killed two cats in Anaheim and has been deemed a vicious danger to the community by animal control officials fell on deaf ears Tuesday, meaning the animal will likely be put to death.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Spitzer asked his colleagues to override OC Animal Care’s decision — which has already been upheld by a Superior Court judge — to euthanize the 4-year-old husky mix. He said the dog, named Karma, should be sent to the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary in Lucerne Valley.
His motion, however, died when none of Spitzer’s colleagues seconded the motion.
Thousands of animal advocates have signed an online petition asking that the dog’s life be spared.
Karma was impounded in May when its owners were arrested in a domestic violence dispute, and the couple’s four children — ranging in age from infant to 8 years old — were placed at the Orangewood Children’s Home, Spitzer said.
After it was impounded, OC Animal Care officials determined the husky was part-wolf, and could not be properly vaccinated against rabies. They also noted that the animal in 2012 killed two cats in its Anaheim neighborhood while roaming free, demonstrating that it is a vicious animal.
Spitzer argued, however, that the dog was “neglected and not fed,” prompting it to hunt down the two cats.
“So hungry dog, neglected by drug users, gets out and does what it is trained to do — goes after a cat just like Wile E. Coyote,” Spitzer said.
But veterinarian Jennifer Hawkins, the OC Animal Care director who recommended euthanizing the dog, said such behavior isn’t acceptable.
“It’s not common for dogs to be killing cats — that is why this (vicious dog) code exists,” she said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Spitzer grilled Hawkins on her stance that the county had to put the dog down because there are no appropriate places in which to shelter it. Spitzer said he has received assurances from county attorneys that the Lucerne Valley sanctuary would meet the county’s requirements for placement of the animal.
Hawkins conceded that it was a “tough call” to decide the dog’s fate, but she insisted the animal poses a threat to the public and needs to be put to sleep. Hawkins cited a separate incident in which the dog aggressively ran at a woman carrying a child.
“She had to throw water (at the dog) and run and try to get away from the dog,” Hawkins said.
Although Spitzer contended the dog did not knock down the woman or bite or attack the children, Hawkins insisted, “In my professional opinion that is very close to being aggressive,” Hawkins said.
Joining the debate, Supervisor Shawn Nelson blasted Spitzer for wanting to go against the advice of the county’s professional animal care director — as well as an Orange County Superior Court judge who sided with Hawkins on the dog’s viciousness.
The judge “agrees with her opinion,” Nelson said. “And it’s not changing, so what would be the basis for us to go back to (the judge) and say he’s wrong?”
Nelson said it wasn’t enough to tell a judge that county officials simply disagree and want to save the dog.
“We’d have to hire an expert that maybe has a different opinion,” Nelson said. “There’s nothing else to do unless (Hawkins) came to us with something different.”
Nelson also criticized Spitzer for arguing that the animal is essentially a Husky breed with “wolf lineage” and not a wolf-dog hybrid — but he wants to place the animal in a wolf sanctuary.
“I thought your argument is it’s not a wolf,” Nelson said. “Why not go to the Chihuahua sanctuary?”
The board, at the urging of Supervisors Lisa Bartlett and Andrew Do, discussed the issue further behind closed doors. But when Spitzer his motion to spare the dog, neither Bartlett, Do nor Nelson offered a second. Supervisor Michelle Steel was absent.
“That means (the judge’s order) will stand,” Spitzer said.
—City News Service
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