Part Dog, Part Wolf

June 12, 1993|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Staff Writer

A large, lean, white canine roamed around the legs of its 21-year-old owner, John Roduik, while both waited outside the Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday. Seemingly harmless, Baron did not resist being pet by others.

But Mr. Roduik of Chestertown must give up this soft-eyed animal because Baron is a wolf hybrid.

The result of breeding a wolf and a domestic dog, such as a malamute or German Shepard, the hybrid is illegal in Maryland and eight other states.

The biggest complaint against the wolf hybrid is its unpredictable behavior. The animals can be warm, fuzzy companions or vicious killers, according to the Humane Society of the United States. which is opposed to their breeding and sale. The society blames hybrids for six deaths and numerous maimings in the past three years.

Most victims were small children.

Helen Mitternight, a society spokeswoman, said the hybrids make bad pets because "you just don't know what they're going to do."

Carolyn Edison, an animal-pro

tection activist who owns a 2,100-acre, New Mexico-based sanctuary for wolf hybrids, has agreed to care for Baron. His flight West was being paid for by American Airlines.

The wolf hybrid population is estimated at about 1.5 million with an increase of 500,000 every year, according to Ms. Edison, who cited a Cornell University study in March.

Ms. Edison said the hybrid's potential danger to families with young children is a result of its nature.

"To hybrids and wolves, small children look like prey," she said. "It's nothing personal. It's just the way they are."

Mr. Roduik said he bought his hybrid, Baron, in 1991 because "he looked like a dog I used to have" and that Baron did not subsequently attack any children or other animals. Five months after making the purchase from an elderly couple in Delaware, Mr. Roduik learned that owning the hybrid was illegal.

He decided to give him up out of fear for what might happen. "I'm more worried about him hurting

someone than me," said Mr. Roduik.

KarolynCalloway, president of Sad Sac, Inc., an animal-relocation service in Worton, arranged Baron's transfer to Ms. Edison. Otherwise, the hybrid would have been destroyed.

Although the wolf is one parent, the offspring may or may not display such wolf characteristics as brightly colored eyes, long legs, and a large head, making it difficult to assess the proportion of wolf traits in a given hybrid.

Although wolf-hybrid puppies can be bought from various breeding kennels throughout the United States, a 1986 state law outlaws breeding and owning wolf hybrids in Maryland because no rabies vaccine has been approved for them.

First-time offenders can be fined $65 to $1,500. Repeat offenders risk a fine of $4,000 and/or a jail sentence of one year. In all cases, the animals are taken and euthanized, said Mr. Hoffman.

Ms. Edison said that she, too, discourages ownership of wolf hybrids. "They do not pass around well. Unlike a dog that can go through four or five families, you can't do that with these animals," she said, explaining that they have an inborn fear of humans.

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