An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled this month that a service dog named Karma must be killed at the Orange Co shelter in CA before October 20. The ruling was based upon the recommendation of the shelter’s director/veterinarian:
OC Animal Care Director and Chief Veterinarian Jennifer Hawkins has deemed the husky mix too dangerous to be released in the community or to live at an animal sanctuary. OC Animal Care designated Karma a vicious animal because the dog killed at least one cat in 2012 in Anaheim, and because of the dog’s partial wolf ancestry, the effectiveness of required rabies vaccinations is unknown.
The “partial wolf ancestry” being referenced:
Animal Care ordered a genetic test on the dog – the first ever by the agency – after her owners were arrested and family members told police the dog was part wolf. The genetic test suggested that Karma likely had a wolf ancestor two or three generations back.
Suggested? Gee, that sounds… inconclusive. To complicate matters further, the CA Veterinary Medical Association says:
The California Department of Health Services (CDHS) requires that if an animal contains any wolf, even 1 percent, it must be considered a wolf hybrid and handled as an exotic animal. The California Department of Fish and Game, however, only requires a permit for the animal if it is 50 percent or more wolf. According to CDHS, a veterinarian can vaccinate the animal with canine rabies vaccine, but if it bites someone or is bitten by a rabid animal, it will be treated as unvaccinated.
The AVMA Trust cautions veterinarians to inform owners that the vaccine is not licensed for use in wolf hybrids, and no studies have proven efficacy of the vaccine in the animals.
It appears that in CA, owners of any animal designated a wolf hybrid run the risk of having the animal ordered killed if the animal bites a person or is exposed to a rabid animal due to the unknown efficacy of rabies vaccine on hybrids. But as far as I can tell, Karma has neither bitten a person nor has she been exposed to a rabid animal. It’s unclear to me why the OC shelter director is recommending she be killed.
Orange Co Supervisor Todd Spitzer also questioned the director’s recommendation and asked the Board of Supervisors to override the director at a hearing this week:
Spitzer argued that a liability release drafted by county lawyers Friday and approved by OC Animal Care outlining the requirements of how Karma must be kept should be enough to spare the dog from death.
But Hawkins would not relent:
“I stand by my recommendation that euthanasia is a reasonable means to assure public safety,” Hawkins said during the Board of Supervisors meeting. “I don’t know if it will distinguish between domestic animals or a small child.”
Oh geez. So let’s kill the dog because the director doesn’t understand canine behavior and can’t predict the future. Sounds like solid reasoning. Spitzer was apparently caught off guard:
“When county counsel gave me a draft of what it would take, I believed, mistakenly, she supported that,” Spitzer said. “I had no idea even if a rescue (group) signed the agreement she would not support it. The fate rested in the board’s hands. We’re the only ones who have the authority to overrule the recommendation of our Animal Care director.”
Spitzer was the only board member advocating for Karma’s right to live. None of the other members were willing to support Spitzer. The wolf sanctuary that originally agreed to take Karma backed out. Because Karma is a dog. There are reportedly several other rescues willing to take her. But it sounds as if the OC shelter director is committed to killing Karma, despite all offers and all reason. I dread to think how the director applies her form of logic to saving – or ending – the lives of other pets at the shelter.
(Thanks Kellee for the link.)