Learning from tragedy of attack by wolf hybrid | PostIndependent.com

Learning from tragedy of attack by wolf hybrid

Two people are due in court today in connection with a May 3 attack by a wolf hybrid on 7-year-old Gracie McSwain in Glenwood Springs.

The unfortunate incident has raised a host of questions regarding the circumstances of the attack. They have been difficult to answer fully, and will be left to the court to sort out. But at a bare minimum, the situation indicates that wolf hybrids have no place in a populated area such as Glenwood Springs.

It’s unclear whether cities can ban hybrids, after the state Legislature in April passed a law prohibiting the banning of specific breeds of dogs. But a clear distinction can be drawn between dogs and wolves/wolf hybrids. Wolves are wild animals, and wolf hybrids remain partly wild even if they are part dog. Cities should be able to ban them for purposes of public safety, just as they might ban ownership of other wild and predatory creatures in their city limits.

As the biting of Gracie indicates, despite the best intentions of owners of wild animals to keep them safely enclosed, the opportunity remains too great for harm when so many people live in such close proximity to them.

Two animals were taken from Wagner’s home after the attack, as it was unclear which bit the girl. He should remove a third one from his home as well.

Meanwhile, Wagner and Lisa Ruoff, who was caring for the animals at the time of the attack, both face a vicious dog charge. But Wagner also was charged with failure to vaccinate, which seems like overreaching on the part of police and prosecutors. He had his animals vaccinated in good faith. Now authorities, after a fair amount of research, have found reason to question whether the rabies vaccinations are effective against wolf hybrids.

Given their own initial uncertainty over the matter, it doesn’t seem fair to expect Wagner to have known any better. But if the rabies shots may not be effective, that’s all the more reason not to keep wolf hybrids in town.

Whether the vicious dog charges stick may hinge on further determining how Gracie got bitten by a fenced-in animal. Difficult but fair questions are being raised regarding whether Gracie’s mom let her get too close to the animals. At the very least, this accident serves as a reminder to parents in general about the need to exercise care with their children around dogs and other potentially dangerous animals.

No matter where the fault lies for the attack, it is a tragedy for everyone involved ” Gracie, her family, Ruoff and Wagner, and even the animals. But if anything good can come from it, it may be in learning lessons that reduce the chances of a similar accident occurring in the future.

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