Probable euthanasia for Orange Co wolf dogs living in shelter

A group of wolf-dog hybrids housed at the Orange County Animal Shelter since last summer still need a forever home, officials said Thursday.

Animal control officials have “potentially found suitable sanctuary placement” for some of the dogs, but have not yet found suitable placement for the rest, said Tenille Fox, spokeswoman for Orange County Animal Services.

If the county doesn’t find an organization to take the animals, any hybrids remaining at the shelter would likely be humanely euthanized, she said.

Dr. Sandra Strong, director of Orange County Animal Services, said housing the animals in the shelter would deprive them of “an acceptable long-term quality of life” and would not be in line with “good animal welfare practices.” “.

“Unfortunately, these dogs have never been properly socialized as pets. They cannot be safely walked on a leash, and they cannot be easily handled for care or effective social interaction, Strong said in a press release.

“We try to keep them as comfortable as possible during their stay with us, and we provide them with an enrichment that they will accept,” she said. “The sad reality is that the remaining wolfdogs cannot continue to stay in the shelter.”

Months of effort to find a home for hybrids

Authorities have been trying to place the hybrids, believed to be part German Shepherd, since they arrived at the animal shelter in July and August 2021.

In August, a board-certified veterinarian confirmed that their genetic information and behavior was consistent with a wolf-dog crossbreed, the statement said. The expert, who has a background in zoo medicine and extensive experience working with wolves, approved the county’s placement plan for the hybrids.

Authorities did not allow the animals to be adopted because it would be “a public hazard” to place them with someone with insufficient experience or the required license to handle hybrids, the statement said.

About a dozen hybrid animals escaped from an enclosure in the community of Cedar Grove north of Hillsborough in July, The News & Observer previously reported.

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Orange County Animal Services Contributed

Eight were captured at the time and moved to the animal shelter on Eubanks Road.

A few of the animals remained free and one, a female, was found dead off NC 86 at Hillsborough in November. The animal appears to have been hit by a car, Fox told the N&O at the time.

Two wolf-dog hybrids remained untraceable, Fox said, but had not been seen recently in November and likely left the area or died.

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A driver shared this July 6 photo to the local Orange County Facebook page of four dogs near the intersection of Walnut Grove Church Road and Sawmill Road. Animal services officials were unable to confirm at the time whether these were the missing dogs, but members of the Facebook group had tracked the dogs’ whereabouts. Claudia Das Neves Pestana Contributed

Where did animal control officials look?

The county contacted several sanctuaries, but most did not have a place to house the animals, Fox said. Authorities have also reached out to rescues, but none have been able to care for the hybrid animals, which require extensive socialization.

The wolf-dog hybrids were evaluated in December by a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, who said confining the animals to a long-term shelter would be stressful and inhumane, Fox said.

It is illegal to own animals in Orange County, and in addition to not being domesticated like other pets, there is no approved rabies vaccine for them.

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This story was originally published January 28, 2022 8:32 a.m.

Avi Bajpai covers breaking news and public safety for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun.