Animal Law

Death Sentence for Wolf Hybrid Is Converted to Life Term at Louisiana State Penitentiary

A wolf hybrid that had been given the death penalty by a Louisiana judge over its aggressive behavior got a reprieve Tuesday after a state prison warden suggested an alternative sentence.

Chief, who has mixed British Columbia wolf and German shepherd ancestry, will now be sent to patrol the 18,000-acre, maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, after some training with a handler, the Advocate reports.

18th Judicial District Judge James Best signed an order giving Chief to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, at the request of Angola Warden Burl Cain. The state already has a program of using wolf hybrids to patrol the prison grounds at Angola at night, filling in for human guards whose jobs were cut.

Although the judge said he was glad to be able to protect the community from Chief while sending him to an environment in which he should do well, the animal’s former owner expressed doubt.

Vicky Smith, who cared for him since he was a small puppy, said he was used to living in a family environment and eating oatmeal for breakfast.

“It’s not right what they’re doing,” she told the newspaper. “I was going to sell my house and move out of the parish to keep my dog. I want my dog back, but once he goes to Angola I don’t think I’ll get him.”

The ownership of wolf hybrids is restricted in some jurisdictions, where they are considered a type of wild animal rather than a dog. The Hybrid Law website references state-law restrictions.

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