When family dog Capone jumped the fence around his Aurora, Colorado, home in late February, he had no idea what his escapade had set in motion.
It was the first time the 10-year-old dog had gotten out of the yard, and when his family went to pick him up from animal control, they were turned away. Animal control employees refused to give the dog back, claiming he is a wolf hybrid. (Although there are no federal laws about owning wolf hybrids, some states and cities have legislation making it illegal to own exotic/wild animals.)
"I am 100 percent confident he is not a wolf — not a doubt in my mind," Capone's owner, Tracy Abbato, told FOX 31.
When the Abbatos adopted Capone from an animal shelter nearly a decade ago, they were told he was a German shepherd mix. Their family veterinarian told them the same thing.
Animal control officials classified Capone as part wolf based on his "mannerisms, behavior and physical characteristics," according to the TV station. They performed a DNA test not long after he was brought in and are waiting for the results. If the results show he is a wolf hybrid, he can either be taken to a wolf sanctuary or euthanized.
The Abbatos are trying to get a judge to let Capone come back home while they await test results. (He's been sitting in the shelter for more than two weeks.) They've started a fundraising page to help with legal fees.
"It's hard for me. It's hard for my kids. He's a family member. We've had him for almost 10 years. We miss him," Abbato said.
The city of Aurora responded to the controversy on its Facebook page:
"We want to thank everyone for the discussion surrounding the current case involving Aurora Animal Services. Because this is an ongoing legal case, we are unable to respond specifically to some of your comments, but please know that we are reviewing and compiling all of the comments we receive. We hope there will be an amicable resolution to this situation."
Abbato writes in her GoFundMe plea: "I just want my baby to be back at home with his loving family where he belongs and I will do anything to make that happen."