I've recently been contacted by a couple of people in regards to my blog on wolf hybrids and how they should not be considered as service animals. The purpose of this blog is to show you the entire conversation and it will be linked to a more formal article with Examiner and you can find that page and watch for it by clicking HERE.
This first conversation is between myself and someone with Wolfdogs Magazine, who would not identify himself.
Hey I saw your wolfdog blog and was going to post but rather than make a public spectacle going back and forth I thought I would just write you. I would like to encourage you to subscribe to Wolfdogs Magazine. You can subscribe at www.wolfdogsmagazine.org This magazine goes out to 15 countries and is written by its subscribers. In it you will find many examples that completely defy what you wrote in your blog. There are even examples of wolfdogs that can interact with kids. The magazine is loaded with pictures too. In the current issue there is an article about a man who is permanently in a wheelchair because he was born with cerebral palsy. He has been raising wolfdogs for years and the pics are great !!! Also some of your points about them being uninsured etc. are just poorly researched. While its true that some insurance companies will not insure some breeds of dogs there are many that will. Anyhow before you write the magazine off as biased it also shares plenty of stories about wolfdogs that didnt work out so well because of their owners or they were poorly bred or whatever. The idea behind the magazine is to offer people well balanced info about these animals rather than just say "oh aint it aweful" or "its a bad idea." Many ACOs and Veterinarians are subscribers. Also the references you cited on your blog are full of misrepresentations. I know this because I either personally know the people who were referenced or I have personally researched the cases they refer to and many of those animals they reference were not even wolfdogs. Anyhow if you are really interested in truth you'll find that it is in the "shades of grey" After you subscribe you might even be interested in writing an article yourself.
The staff at Wolfdogs Magazine
So let me see if I understand this correctly...... because you have a magazine and pretty much ONLY because you have a magazine I should accept your word on wolf hybrids?
Furthermore, because you write in your magazine "things that defy" what I had to say, I should just forget everything I personally worked through and denounce that???
You know, I gave my personal view and real statistics and the actual points of views of insurance companies, law enforcement, etc. I then suggested, quite simply that a perspective owner do their homework. So if you want to knock what I had to say, then you knock that too. I didn't say they should all be euthanized or anything like that so you can all get over yourselves. I know theres lots and lots of MONEY in the wolfdog business. And you lost any possibility of reasoning with me when you said I'm poorly researched because that's what they all say when they are defending their moneymaking wolf dogs.
Let me tell you about magazines... lots of people publish magazines... that doesn't make them the be all end all. And anyone can take a nice photo. I've seen plenty of them. And showing a photo of a wolfdog that can "interact" with children is misleading, my point is that you can't leave them ALONE WITH STRANGE CHILDREN. And you know it. Did you know dog fighters have magazine publications? They do. That's not to try and compare you to dogfighters, it's an example that anyone with a little clout can start up a magazine.
As for the meat of my blog article.... let's compare with your breeder who has epilepsy.... is even one of his wolfdogs a CERTIFIED SERVICE ANIMAL FOR HIS EPILEPSY??? That's what my article was about, if you bothered to actually read it all as I'm sure you didn't, just like the last person who came off on me.
And you should be really really concerned about that. Because there is someone out there who is trying to sell the idea that wolfdogs can be CERTIFIED SERVICE ANIMALS.... and when that crashes.... and it will, what do you think it will do the image your wolf dogs have then? That's what my article was about primarily and why they cannot be used for such a service or trusted for such a service. You want to have your wolf dog... go ahead, but when one is bought to help little Jimmy in his wheelchair and mauls him instead, it will fall on YOU. If you really want to protect the "status" of your wolf dogs, you'll denounce THAT idea, instead of targeting me.
And I'll just about bet, that if ACO's are subscribing to your magazine, it's not because they agree with you, it's so they can keep an eye on you. It's so they can keep some tabs on what is going on with the wolfdog venue for when it lands in their jurisdiction again.
But then, you already know all this. All of it. The only reason I wrote that blog is because of the idea that some autistic child (whom I advocate for) is going to wind up with one of these animals as a service animal when they are NOT service animals. Because someone CONNED a family into buying one as a service animal and that family knows squat about wolf dogs.
Thanks but no thanks.
Sorry to have offended you. In the next issue is an article about getting your CGC title for your wolfdog. We never said that working for a magazine ever gave anybody any credibility. The only reason we wanted to bring the magazine to your attention was to let you know that there are a great deal of people doing all kinds of positive things with wolfdogs. The articles in the magazine are great testimonies. We have no doubt that as an ACO you have met some poorly bred/owned wolfdogs. They exist in all breeds. We didnt write you to debate the merits of your blog but only to make you aware that there are many other viewpoints. Contrary to your statement most people who own wolfdogs dont make any money off them. In addition, at this time, this magazine takes any profits it might make and prints more magazines to send to more ACOs, Vets, Wildlife officers etc. Now we will agree with you that we personally do not know of any wolfdogs that are "certified epilepsy service dogs" nor do we know of anybody breeders who promote them as that. Your blog however went a lot further than that and your "official citations" are actually antagonistic propaganda (we realize that you didnt have anything to do with writing them). We read all of your article very carefully including the citations. Our goal is not to get into some stupid war of words but only to let you know that there are a lot of wolfdog enthusiasts out there and it makes us feel bad every time our wolfdog companions get an unjustified bad rap. We fight the stereotypes enough as it is. We actually have met quite a few ACOs and law enforcement officers that own wolfdogs. Again we're sorry if we offended you or put you on the defense. That was not the intention.
The staff at Wolfdogs Magazine
Okay, without any word war intended, but a direct point of view (not an uneducated one, please realize) let me respond to your response:
First of all a correction. I did not say that 'owners' make money, but there is a lot of money to made in the breeding market. Yes, as with any market there are unscrupulous people who will take advantage of families. In this case however, it is more dangerous to the unwitting family to buy from the unscrupulous and puts any wolfdog in a bad situation too... right?
This is not your common dog breed and it's needs are not the same. Since I posted that blog I keep getting comparisons to average dogs, these are unrealistic comparisons. Wolfdogs have significant special needs that do not compare with animals that have been domesticated far past them and for hundreds of generations, no thousands, longer.
Now I also posted an article in the Examiner that you might appreciate because wolf dogs are not the only ones mentioned. I am a pet news examiner for the Milwaukee area. The article is about breeds that insurance companies don't like. It's not meant to hurt the breed, but to report the situation. I love dogs. I love animals. And yes, I particularly do love wolves. I was an ACO for six and a half years, worked in various forms of law and protection for 19 years, am NACA certified (animal control certification), and have been a professional researcher for easily as long. That being said, here is the article... Insurance Companies Don't like these dogs Please feel free to look through my other articles. I believe you will find me to be quite diverse in my selections. I most avidly take a stand on people getting animals they shouldn't. Not because they are bad animals, but some of them either shouldn't be pets (like monkeys) or get picked on impulse without any homework done (like wolf dogs, and large snakes).
Now note that I didn't say wolf dogs should never be pets, I don't agree with them and feel that it's tampering with nature, but in the right hands, I'm sure there are plenty of success stories. In the right and qualified hands. A wolf hybrid is not for the casual pet owner, period. There are hybrid breeders who also have that stance (the casual owner opinion not the nature opinion). That's because they don't want the animals they breed to wind up in shelters, released into the wild, in legal trouble or just plain shot and killed. That's because it comes back on them and yes, they actually care about their animals.
Before I explain this next part to you, let me tell you that I am going to go over my references here and you need to know, what while I can look them up...I have no idea who YOU are. You identify yourself as STAFF.... Sorry, but I get the feeling I am talking to just one individual at this moment yes? You claim to personally know some of those references yes? Since you said that, how am I supposed to make an objective comparison for myself without knowing who you are? You said you personally know some of these people or that you have research some of their cases and found them not to be hybrids.... So forgive me, but I need to know that you are someone with the credentials to match up to the references you say are "wrong". And I'll point out right now... you didn't say that "your people" or your 'associates' debunked them, you said YOU did. You said quote: "I personally"... that means you as an individual. And how do you know they weren't hybrids? I hope you can appreciate why my question of you goes into such depth.
Now let me tell you about the common defenses used with hybrids that give cause to the mistrust, though applicable in certain rare situations, but used constantly..
It's not really a hybrid: This was one of the defenses in a case I mentioned on my blog. The owner of this hybrid and it was a hybrid, touted his pet as the most adoring in the world. He trusted it with his own child etc etc. I got loose, killed someone elses family pet and nearly killed a small girl. As soon as he had to defend it from that angle it magically wasn't a hybrid anymore. He was even backed by enthusiasts around the state who didn't want it seen as a hybrid either. But, as evidence showed, it came from a known breeder, was identified and bragged as a hybrid by that breeder and owner all it's life, had exceptionally physique of a hybrid and was identified by wildlife experts at the University and with the state as a hybrid. You applied this as a defense yourself, noted above. The defense is overused and abused and seldom with enough supportive facts to hold water. The fact of the matter is this, once identified as a hybrid and established that way over and over again... you aren't going to shake the public and get them to believe otherwise without a comprehensive DNA test and even that isn't fully trusted for obvious biological reasons.
It doesn't have that much wolf in it: There is NO test that can tell you how much wolf versus dog is in any one of these animals and incidents speak louder than "claims" of owners every time. There is a statistically proven and biologically written pattern and way of behavior in each and every one of these animals. It's been backed up by science in the way of wildlife biologists who have been in their perspective fields for decades. The point on this one is that it's not a defense that can be backed up in the slightest. If there's enough wolf in it to make it act like and look like a wolf (which is what enthusiast for these animals WANT) then it's a wolf and how much it's mixed is a moot point. It is a concrete and steel fact proven by science and agreed to by the same biologists and breeders too.... that the wolf traits are DOMINANT. So not only is it not a defense, but proves that trying to dilute wolf traits by crossing with domestic dogs.... hasn't worked and won't work. And finally.... if it didn't look like wolf or have those traits, what would be the sense of touting them as wolf hybrids? Where would the enthusiasts be? Where would the appeal be? It wouldn't be.
It's no more dangerous than a Rotti or Shepherd, etc etc...: It's true that hybrids, through insurance reports and law reports, have little more the number of bites and attacks than the any of the other "dominant/aggressive" breeds. But here's the failing of this defense... how many rottis are there in the world? How many dobermans? When you get to the percentage of the breed itself, the percentage of attacks reported is higher than with those other dogs. Sorry, but it is. Wolf hybrids are a minority in the dog world, yes like the Presario which is a domestic breed but they are on the naughty list too ya know. So fewer of them than other breeds with the same number of attacks as breeds that are common? And that brings up the next failing of this defense.... If you say that something is no more dangerous than something already considered dangerous.. what are you really saying? It's like saying that sticking your hand in pink boiling oil is no worse than sticking your hand in purple boilling oil.... at least it's true. But does it make either one more acceptable? NOPE. And it does not remove the level of responsibility needed to have these animals. Do you know why these breeds have a bad rep? It's because people refuse to stop being stupid with them. NOT because of reports made about them on incidents that happen. And breeders who try to get them looked at as "any other dog" are irresponsible. These are not just any dog, they are a very special needs animal that does not belong in places like city dwellings. That don't belong with just anyone who can throw enough cash at the breeder to buy one. Yes, even though not everyone should own a pitbull or rotti.... but far beyond that. Wild animal hybrids are NOT like long domesticated animals. They just aren't. The wolf hybrid has more specific needs than any breed of domestic dog and if they don't get them the failure rate is more likely than any breed of domestic dog.
I will agree that there are good owners out there who do know what they are doing. But common presentation is that wolfhybrids are cuddly and cute and should be in everyone's home. There are people out there who contact me and have contacted people like Leerburg to say that "my hybrid hasn't hurt anyone so don't talk bad about hybrids". Well, they miss the big picture. If you or people in your magazine are good owners, good for you. But too much info presented in trying to exonerate the breed is misleading and leads to people getting them who shouldn't. When I look at photos of people getting all kissy faced with their hybrids, I see a false message sent to the naive. "Well it's all kissy cuddly with that guy, so I should go get a wolf puppy today!" That is a false image and it needs to be put in big bold letters: THIS IS NOT A COMMON RESULT FOR PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW THESE ANIMALS INSIDE, OUTSIDE, AND CLEAR THROUGH. DO NOT GET A HYBRID WITHOUT LEARNING EVERYTHING YOU CAN ABOUT WOLVES, WOLF BEHAVIOR, AND THESE ANIMALS SPECIFICALLY. But is that going to happen? I doubt it and I'll come and look at your magazine because I want to know just how much you demand that education of possible owners. Anyway..
Keller and Keller Law Firm: They have five offices and have been in business since 1936. Chances are they haven't been dealing with these kind of cases without knowing how to research them? Most veteran firms I have ever dealt with are in the solid practice of confirming all information before they walk into a court of law with it. That's just court room common sense. So are these cases ones you say you researched and decided they weren't hybrids? How did you decide this? Have you seen the cases details in full? Do you know if the animals were looked at by professionals? Can you show me this information? Hint: I already looked, but I'm willing to interview them, how about you?
The Alaskan Malamute Club of Canada's flier on fantasy and facts: They said right in their document that their purpose was niether to suppor or condemn and honestly they do a service to the hybrid community. Maybe you can avoid one or two more bad owners mucking with your hybrids rep after they read that? Or better yet, please show me documented and supportive information that debunks their information? I'm sorry, but I found their information be pretty dead on.
Ed Frawley of Leerburg Kennels: Link is to his direct opinion and yes he calls them "kid killers". I can understand why hybrid enthusiasts wouldn't like that, but.... You said you knew some of these people personally or that some of the animals weren't really hybrids.... so I would like to know where the debunking is. Anyway.. he's been training dogs, specifically german shepherds for more than 45 years. He is highly respected by the law enforcement community and knows dogs, really knows dogs. This isn't a side venue or a hobby for this man, it's his life. And I happen to know, since I've talked to him while I was an ACO and seen his credentials, that he didn't just go off half cocked about hybrids. But once again, please tell me exactly and in detail how he's wrong.
The Merritt Clifton Report: This report is not only accepted by our largest insurance companies but law enforcement as well. And not just ACO or Animal Control, but Police, Sheriff and even FBI as well as RCMP (Canada). As it is, the Clifton report is not the slightest bit biased and doesn't shout good or evil, just reports what has happened and you can't change history. So are you saying you KNOW Merritt Clifton and have studied all of his report and every report he has? That you know for a fact exactly how many of the hybrids in his numbers were or were not hybrids? You did say you know "some" and I've only posted four total, so set me straight here. Merritt is the Editor in Chief of an in print Animal rights newspaper that was founded in 1992. That's 18 years of work with animals, all animals being the main subject. These are pretty solid credentials and respected research (except by breed enthusiasts and not just of hybrids, pit enthusiasts don't like him either).
So, I think I've been pretty detailed in my response to you and hope that you can return the favor. Of course, I think I will indeed come take a look and research your magazine. Since you read my work in detail, I would expect you to debunk me in detail as well. So far, to be fair, you haven't done that. So please, show me the counter established facts and research, ok?
This is what I didn't want this to turn into. You are correct that I am the one on the keyboard. The "we" I referred to is the other people, giving input, in the background. Unfortunately at the moment I don't have the amount of time needed to address all of these points or to share with you all of the research from the past. The last time I did this it turned into a full time, two year, online debate that eventually led to debates with Lobbyists, HSUS, legislators getting involved, having to get a booth a the AVMA convention and spending a bunch of wasted time with CNN. So here is my proposal to you for now ( if you are really interested) Go research all of the case reports yourself and get the photos and do the interviews with the enforcement officers, ACOs, medical professionals etc. You will be very surprised at some of what you will discover. Start with this case here In Ishpeming, Michigan, a five-year old was mauled to death by a relative’s wolf hybrid that was adopted out from the local animal shelter. (the victim was Angie Nickerson and the dog that killed and ate her was named Ivan) The reference is made in your www.2keller.com reference.
There is also big money in "Animal Rights" and telling a bunch mis-truths along the way is just means to making a bunch of money. Follow HSUS's tax records if you don't believe me. Also just so I am clear I am not saying that every wolfdog attack case was incorrect. More like half of them. On a last note who I am is really irrelevant. I am not trying to make a case for or against wolfdogs based on my credentials. Thanks for so thoroughly explaining your position on wolfdogs. If I get some free time this summer, I'll try and send you some of the case studies if you haven't researched them already.
"The keyboard operator and some of the staff in the background at Wolfdogs Magazine"
P.S. We still think that you would find Wolfdogs Magazine to be very fascinating. In fact in the premier issue there is a story with photos about a couple who traveled all over Wisconsin being pulled in a buggy by a team of Wolves/Wolfdogs in 1912.
Well, "Editor or staff" who ever you are,
Anyone who won't verify their identity and credentials is hard pressed to be believed.
And I record you state that you don't have time to tell which of only four resources you claimed to know personally.
And you're right, this isn't a debate, it's a collection of information. I am working on an article, you may be quoted. You DID catch in my last email that I'm an Examiner right?
So, since you don't have time, I won't waste any more of it.
Next I receive an email from "Susan" and this is it:
As someone who has been involved in researching canines and dog bans for over a decade, I've found that you can find statistics to support any position you decide to take. In Michigan, the faulty identification of Ivan, a mixed breed dog, not a wolf dog, was the most influential factor of the eventual ban of wolf dogs in Michigan. The scientific evidence of Ivan's necropsy was completely ignored. A pseudo-scientist was believed because she had the backing of the Michigan Humane Society, which had very deep pockets as an Animal Rights organization. Perhaps, as a former ACO, you would be surprised to find out that The Humane Society of the United States does no real rescue of pets. They are, for the most part, a fund-raising organization that lobbies for animal rights legislation. They have both a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4) designation; the later allows them to do lobbying, without jeopardizing their 501(c)(3) status.
As someone who supports responsible wolf dog ownership, I do think that wolf dogs will not fit every potential dog owner household. But, neither do I think that Chesapeake Retrievers, English Mastiffs, Labrador Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers, or Shih Tzus will fit every potential dog owner household. Dogs are not a one type fits all. The type or breed of dog that a family/person chooses should be based on lifestyle and environment, as well as, the personality of the owner/s. Wolf dogs are amenable to owners who enjoy the outdoors, have personalities that enjoy dogs with higher intelligence, and thus, enjoy training and socialization that takes imagination, as well as, consistency. Because you may not want to own a wolf dog, it is not an axiom that all people will not want to own wolf dogs.
Mr. Frawley has been anti-wolf dog for a long time, but, his reputation is not stellar in the working/S.A.R./protection dog community, either. If you would like a less biased opinion from a S.A.R. trainer, please write to Roland Sonnenburg of Talented Animals, website http://www.sardogs.com/. He and his wife have been training S.A.R. dogs and animals for the TV and movie industry for a number of years.
As to DNA tests, they aren't even close to being accurate for humans, let alone canines. mtDNA tests can, accurately, show the maternal lineage of a canine. But, the other DNA tests that are currently available have been disavowed by researchers at UCLA, as unreliable at this point in time. As to the accuracy of the Merritt Clifton Report, who are the experts who phenotyped the dogs that are/were identified as wolf dogs? Did they use photos or did these experts do an in person physical exam of the supposed wolf dogs? Beth Duman, the expert who the State of Michigan relied on for a number or years, made many errors in her judgment of whether a dog was a wolf dog or not. She wrote a book that showed a neotinized wolf from Wolf Park in Battleground IN as an accurate representation of all wolves. She used the physical characteristics of Aurora, the neotinized wolf for comparison in how to identify wolf dogs. Raymond Pierotti PhD of Evolutionary Biology at University of Kansas testified in a number of wolf dog cases, where Beth Duman was the expert, and showed that her opinion was inaccurate and not based on sound scientific research of dog breeds and wolves.
I think what we would like from you, as a journalist, is to do more thorough research before writing the blog article you post online. Your research shows one side of the coin, rather than showing a more thorough unbiased position. We would like a more even-handed shake in the media. It is the sensational stories that make the media, rather than those of wolf dog owners who successfully live with their chosen companions for up to 15 years or more. Thank you for the time and opportunity to share another side of the story.
I don't know if you've been privy to the prior and full email discussion, I kind of hope so, that way my points are pre-established as I go.
Statistics, yes, you can do pretty much as you just said. However, that suggests that I made up my mind without knowing anything at all and that's simply untrue. I don't just speak from what I read in the newspapers, I have experience and have checked my sources and understand them as I will demonstrate for you.
The Humane Society, nope, not surprised at all. But you know what... they do lobby for animal rights legislation. They are part of the reason that animal cruelty is a felony in as many states as it is. Not only is that a good thing but trashing the Humane Society does precious little to prove anything for the stance of the wolf hybrid. What they do with their tax money or their toilet paper for that matter is irrelevant. These are two separate worlds and you have to tackle them that way. After all, what do you want to do? Take down the Humane Society, or get a better rep for your wolf hybrid? Will the first one really achieve the second one? I'm going on a limb and saying NO, it won't.
The case you speak of, just to be a good sport, I will go look at it, likely tonight yet. However, I fully realize that there are false wolf hybrids out there. I know they don't help your cause. In fact they screw it up and wind up killing their dogs as well. Unfortunately, there are just as many documented cases for the actual hybrid as the false one. That's why the "it's not really a hybrid" defense doesn't work. City and County law officials who have to clean these things up can't afford to buy into it. And you shot yourself in the foot when you said that necropsy results were ignored. Because you later say that DNA isn't accurate for even humans.... A necropsy is just an examination of a being after it's dead. For anything definite in identification guess what they use??? Yep, genetic testing, guess what that is??? Yep, DNA.
DNA on humans... wow, you are way way off on this. DNA has cracked cold cases, caught rapists and murders, identified birth parents and so so much more. I cannot fathom where you get the idea that DNA isn't even close on being accurate with humans. DNA has actually identified people who were found dead and couldn't be identified any other way. There are still pioneering stages but to suggest it's a failure the way you just did... I don't understand that at all.
Your comparison to 'other dogs' not being for everyone, which is just comparing the hybrid to regular dogs. This is something the enthusiasts need to stop doing. It's not proving anything and it's horribly misleading. A hybrid is not a regular dog. It's special needs far surpass those of any regular dog. Can they be trained? Yes. Can be loyal and good? Yes. But they are not for the casual pet owner, ie anyone who only knows regular dogs. Yes, I know that there are many breeders who have now got breeding to generations of only wolf dog to wolf dog.... that' doesn't change anything. It's not just a matter of being anti-wolf. A wolf is a wolf is a wolf. The sooner that many of you get that straight and quit trying to paint fake rainbows on them, the sooner you get the fair shake you're looking for.
That brings me to another important point and I'll mention it again because it seems to be just bouncing off peoples foreheads. I didn't say that NO ONE should have a wolf hybrid. I said that if you are going to get one you better do your homework and gave examples of why. Are you denying then, that hybrids are shunned by cities, towns, and home owner's insurance? Whether it's fair or not is not my report. That is the reality of the world of the hybrid wolf owner. If you are going to become a hybrid wolf owner, you better be ready for that reality. Are you also going to deny that the law will not recognise your hybrid's rabies vaccination? Can you name for me one JUST ONE domestic dog breed that has that problem? Go ahead, name it. This is what people need to know and I report on that. Attack or mauling issues aside, you cannot deny the problems I just listed and be honest about it.
Thank for trying to answer on my resources but you still don't present anything that helps you there either, here's how:
Ed Frawley: So you say he's not perfect? How does that make him wrong? Just because he isn't everybody's favorite doesn't prove he doesn't know what he's doing or knock down how long he's been doing it. Unless you got something really major to tell us about him, but then I think you would have done that by now.
The Clifton Report: it says right in the report exactly how he got his information. He reported on what was given to him from cooperating agencies, just like any of us and no, not from funny papers either. Go actually read it then come try again.
And finally I repeat one more thing that really disturbs me with you and the magazine guy who won't identify himself.... my blog article was spurred by someone spreading the idea that a wolf hybrid makes a good disability service animal. Now, the response I've gotten to that so far, almost suggests that you and he think that's an okay idea. It's a horrible idea. It's a certification and insurance nightmare and the making of a media nightmare for the animals you want exonerated. The first time that fails and it will, and someone gets hurt, and they will, it will burn the reputation of all hybrids. So, if you really want a fair shake, if you really want hybrids to be respected, take a stand on people who are being stupid with them... not the people reporting on them. When things happen, they get reported, that's reality.
So, I'm going to work on my next article coming really soon. You'll no doubt be waiting.
I put this here because I am quoting this discussion in my next Examiner article about getting trustworthy information on exotic pets before you buy one.