A family in Colorado got an unpleasant surprise when their local animal control took away their dog and refused to give it back, alleging that the dog is actually a wolf.
The Abbato family had adopted their dog, Capone, 10 years earlier from an animal shelter. At the time he was presented to them as a German shepherd mix, according to KFVR.
While the family's veterinarian agrees with that classification, Aurora Animal Control maintains that Capone is a wolf-hybrid.
Capone was picked up by animal control on Feb. 24 after he escaped from his yard.
"He jumped the fence," Tracy Abbato told KDVR. "It’s the first time in the seven years we’ve lived here."
When the Abbatos attempted to take Capone home, they were told it was out of the question.
"They say he is a hybrid-wolf now and don't want to release [him] back to us because he is an exotic animal," Tracy said. "I am 100 percent confident he is not a wolf. Not a doubt in my mind."
If the results of a DNA test prove otherwise, Capone will either be sent to a wolf sanctuary or put down. He is being held at the shelter while they await the test results.
"It's hard for me. It's hard for my kids," Tracy said. "He's a family member. We've had him for almost 10 years. We miss him."
"It's been real painful," said Tracy's 11-year-old daughter, Ciara. "I hope they let us keep him because he's really special to me."
The family has hired an attorney. They plan to ask a judge whether Capone can live at home at least until the DNA results come back.
"I don't understand," Tracy said. "This dog has a loving, caring home. People who abuse dogs, leave them outside in 2-degree weather, how do they still have their dogs?"
KMGH reports that Aurora Animal Control recently issued a statement:
Aurora Animal Services ordered the DNA test after its experts observed the animal’s behavior, mannerisms and physical characteristics and believed them to be consistent with those of a wolf hybrid. If the animal is confirmed to be a wolf hybrid and a judge grants ownership to Aurora Animal Services, the primary goal would be to locate a sanctuary that specializes in such animals and can provide the animal with a new home. Aurora Animal Services is committed to balancing the needs of people and animals in the city of Aurora by providing humane shelter, treatment and placement of animals, and part of that mission involves enforcing the city’s animal laws.