Animal Control officials in Aurora, Colorado last month seized a senior dog and are refusing to return him to the family that loves and misses him because, they say, he looks like a wolf-hybrid.
The Abbato family adopted Capone from the Adams County Animal Shelter nearly 10 years ago where he was listed as a German Shepherd mix. For almost a decade, Capone has been a member of the family, sleeping in the family home, playing with his canine brothers, and living a wonderful life with the only family he’s ever known.
Last month, Capone escaped his backyard. “He jumped the fence. It’s the first time in the seven years we’ve lived here,” Capone’s owner, Tracy Abbato told FOX31.
Aurora Animal Control picked up Capone on the day he escaped. But, when the Abbato’s came to collect him from the shelter, they were turned away.
“They say he is a hybrid-wolf now and don’t want to release (him) back to us because he is an exotic animal,” Abbato said. Animal Control says that based on his appearance, mannerisms, and behavior, they suspect his is part wolf. With studies showing that nearly 75% of dogs in shelters are mis-categorized or labeled the wrong breed by shelter staff, the Abbatos are confident that Capone is not a wolf.
Although the Abbato’s veterinarian confirms Capone is a shepherd mix, Animal Control submitted a DNA test on March 1 to determine his actual genetic breed make up. If the DNA shows that he’s a wolf-hybrid, despite living safely in a loving home for a decade, he could face euthanasia if a nearby wolf sanctuary cannot provide space for him.
While they wait for DNA results to come back, Capone is forced to wait in the shelter, away from his family.
“I don’t understand. This dog has a loving, caring home. People who abuse dogs, leave them outside in 2-degree weather, how do they still have their dogs?” Abbato asked.
The Abbato family, who now face criminal charges of an animal running at large, keeping an aggressive animal, and keeping an exotic/wild animal, have hired an attorney.