Orange County struggles to find a home for wolf-dog hybrids

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Members of a group of eight wolf-dog hybrids at a North Carolina animal shelter may be euthanized unless a suitable home can be found for them, officials said Thursday.

Authorities have found a home at a sanctuary for several of the dogs but have not found a suitable place for several others, Orange County Animal Services spokeswoman Tenille Fox told The News & Observer.

If the county can’t find an organization to take the dogs, the remaining hybrids will likely have to be euthanized, Fox said.

The hybrids are believed to be part German Shepherd and arrived at the shelter in July and August 2021 after escaping from a pen near Hillsborough. The shelter is about five miles north of Chapel Hill. In August, a board-certified veterinarian confirmed that their genetic information was compatible with a wolf-dog crossbreed.

According to the press release, the veterinarian has a background in zoo medicine and agreed to the placement plan. The shelter did not allow the animals to be adopted because it said it would be unsafe to place them with someone inexperienced with hybrids, The News & Observer reported.

Dogs also cannot stay at the shelter because it would deprive them of “an acceptable long-term quality of life” and would not be in line with “good animal welfare practices”, the director of animal services at the shelter said. Orange County, Dr. Sandra Strong. according to The News & Observer.

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

A veterinary behaviorist who evaluated the dogs in December said confining them to a long-term shelter would be stressful and inhumane, Fox said.

One of the hybrids left in the wild was found dead off NC 86 in Hillsborough in November and authorities determined it had been hit by a car. According to Fox, two of the hybrids remain untraceable and have not been seen recently. They probably left the area or died, she told The News & Observer.

The county has reached out to several sanctuaries and rescues, but most have had neither the space to house them nor the resources to care for them. It is illegal to own hybrids in Orange County and there is no approved rabies vaccine for them.

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