Wolf-like dog that injured infant sparks debate over breed

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. — Dakota, the animal that badly injured 3-day-old Alexander James Smith on Monday, is at the center of a now national discussion that isn't likely to end soon.

Is she a bad dog that should be destroyed? Or is she a dog acting on a dog's instinct and unfairly taking the blame for what was, essentially, human fault? And, now because of her complicated breed and background, has the matter become so incomprehensibly muddled that she is no longer considered a backyard dog at all?

When Michael Smith, Alexander's father, spoke to the media Tuesday, he said Dakota was "a Native American Indian" breed and said the breeder told him the dog's grandparentage as "90 percent wolf."

Critics argue that hybrids are unpredictable and dangerous, that they make poor pets and that there is no rabies vaccine available for wolves or their hybrids. Proponents claim the hybrid wolf is a good companion and is useful in educating the public about wolves. Many claim "once you have had a wolf hybrid, you will never own a dog again."

Mary Ann Zeigenfuse, a Lexington dog trainer and owner of Best Friends Obedience, said if Dakota is part wolf, she is no expert.

"If this is a wolf-hybrid, this is not a dog," she said. "It is still partly undomesticated. It may, in some cases, have no fear of humans."

When asked if she and loving pet owners could domesticate a wolf, she responded, "if I had 10,000 years."


Related stories from McClatchy DC