Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When Is A Dog Not A Dog? When It Is A Wolf!

Dear Tazi:

My sister, “Frances” has always been the type to “rescues” animals. I do not mean taking in an occasional stray dog or cat, although she does that, too; I mean going to the pet store and buying up all of the feeder animals (fish, mice, crickets, etc.) and freeing them. Frances also goes to the animal shelter to frequently adopt animals that are there. Thankfully, she lives on a large farm and has room for all of these critters. Frances works as a schoolteacher, and will often teach on the importance of ecological balance and why it is important to treat animals with respect – spay and neuter your dogs and cats; do not keep exotics as pets; and do not abandon animals into the wild. Unfortunately, frances does not always follow her own advice.

This summer, Frances started volunteering as a docent at our local zoo, which sits just outside a wooded area. During one of her shifts she noticed what she thought was a stray dog. She spend several weeks coaxing it to come to her and teaching it to trust her. After she succeeded in doing this, she brought it home to her farm. Tazi, a half-blind moron could tell by looking at this creature that it is more wolf than dog! When I mentioned this fact to Frances, she said that she had managed to tame it, so it must have a good amount of dog in it. I say the creature is dangerous to own and that she should return it to its natural habitat; but Frances refuses, saying it has come to depend on her and that putting it back into the wild is the equivalent of a death sentence.

Where Frances and I live, it is illegal to own a wolf hybrid. I admit the animal has not hurt anyone yet, but I am simply not comfortable with the idea of a wolf living among humans. It is unnatural. However, I cannot find it in my heart to turn Frances in to the animal control; they would see the animal put to sleep, and I do not want that hanging over my head. Do you know of any way to convince Frances of the error of her decision?

Animal Lover, Too

Dear Animal Lover, Too:

A wolf is a wolf is a wolf, and the wolf in a wolf-dog hybrid trumps the dog portion of the animal. A wild animal can be tamed to an extent – meaning it can be taught through a system of punishment and reward to live among humans – but it will never be domesticated, which means it will never view a human as its master and its behavior will always remain unpredictable.

Your sister’s new “pet” was born in the wild, which means it will not adjust to domestic living – to try to force this lifestyle on the animal would be cruel and dangerous, not to mention illegal. If the animal was brought in as a pup I might argue differently, but from the sound of your letter this is a full grown wolf-hybrid; it will not adjust to captivity (which is what domestic living is for a wild animal). Furthermore, is your sister lives on or around an operating farm she is putting the lives of the surrounding livestock in very real danger. Even though it is half-dog, Frances’ hybrid will have no qualms about attacking sheep, chickens, and other slow-moving livestock – be it her own or the neighbor’s. Should it be a neighbor’s livestock that is damaged, you can bet that they will have no issue with calling animal control to see your sister’s “pet” put down, and your sister charged with keeping a wild/vicious animal.

The wolf-hybrid your sister has taken in has not lived with her long enough to become acclimated to human presence and regular provisions. It will have no problem readjusting to living in the wild, and I suggest that your sister return the animal to where she found it immediately.


P.S. As for the animals she is "freeing", she is sentencing them to certain death. Feeder animals are bred in captivity, and cannot survive in the wild. Although I am personally against feeding live animals to pets (mice have claws and teeth, and can scratch and injure) their freedom will lead to a much more painful death than being eaten by someone's pet. --T.K.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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