Archived Story

Confiscated wolf may be dog after all

Published 10:38am Thursday, October 22, 2009

The “wolf” recovered from an Austin home Sunday could very well be a dog, according to local officials and a wolf expert, and might be returned to its owner.

The roughly one-year-old “Dakota” is staying at the Austin city pound in the meantime because if the animal is in fact a wolf or wolf crossbreed — as originally thought — it would be illegal in both the city and Mower County to keep her in a home.

The animal was taken from the 1203 11th Ave. NW residence of Dustin Dennison, 27, early Sunday after his mother-in-law told police she was concerned about his pet.

According to police, Dennison bought the animal on the classifieds Web site Craigslist and has paperwork that identifies Dakota as a wolf.

Calls to Dennison’s home were not returned for comment.

Austin community service officer James Dugan said he was convinced Dakota was a hybrid because she exhibits both wolf and dog features, but Minnesota wolf expert Peggy Callahan called him and said she was sure Dakota is all dog after seeing pictures and video of her.

“There is nothing that says wolf to me,” said Callahan, who is also the director of the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake.

Dugan said the animal could soon have blood drawn at a local veterinary clinic, which will be shipped out for a test that should help determine exactly what Dakota is.

Police chief Paul Philipp said it’s not the city’s responsibility to pay for such testing, but a number of people have offered to help, he said. This includes Callahan, who said she has offered to facilitate the transfer of the blood sample.

If Dakota is a dog, Dugan said it is possible she will be returned to Dennison.

Previously, Dugan had been in touch with a number of a people who expressed interest in owning Dakota.

If she is in fact a wolf or part wolf, the legality of owning her would depend on the location — there’s no Minnesota state law against having a wolf as a pet, but it may be against the ordinances of individual cities and counties.

If Dakota can’t be kept locally, a decision on what to do with her should come within 10 days — Dugan said if a home isn’t found before then, the animal may be put down.

But the officer said he’s not worried about that.

“(Dakota) will find a home,” Dugan said.

And if that’s here or somewhere else will depend on if she likes to bark or howl.

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