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'Tucker's Story' by Ron White
Dog or Wolf Hybrid?

Last Christmas, Tucker was a happy camper, opening his presents under the tree with James Moreland and the rest of the family, including the young man's four younger brothers and sisters. Today the dog, described by Moreland as a shepherd/Husky/Blue tick Hound mix is a statistic slated for the ranks of Wolf Hybrids euthanized because the rabies vaccine has not been approved for hybrid use.

But Tucker's family stands by their claim that their pet was not a hybrid.

"We want people to know this can happen to you." said Moreland. Tucker's rabies test came back negative, "like I knew it would." Moreland said he had to go to three places before finally getting hold of the test documents.

Photo of Tucker
Tucker the dog. Look closely at the photo reprinted here. Does Tucker look like a Wolf Hybrid to you? This luxuriously coated brown and black dog with its long, soft ears died in Manassas, Virginia on March 30th 1994 for suspicion of being a wolf/dog mix. The only basis for such a determination were some braggadocio statements made previously by owner James Moreland to friends that Tucker might be part wolf.

But the history of those statements, as published in an article by Vonda K. Wolcott in the Journal Messenger was that "his girlfriend told him she had learned from (Tucker's previous owner's) ex-wife that Tucker was a "Hybrid." Moreland admitted on the witness stand that he thought it was "cool to tell others Tucker was part wolf."

Another witness, Dr. Elaine Lutz, Tucker's veterinarian testified that "her records show that on two out of sixteen visits, Tucker's breed was categorized as part wolf."

She also testified that "it was fashionable a few years ago for dog owners to claim their pets were part wolf, even if no proof of such heredity existed."

The case began when Tucker bit a ten year old boy less than two weeks before. The bite was not an unprovoked attack. The boy was bitten when he tried to pet the dog after being warned not to. The dog was leashed in Moreland's back yard and had growled at the boy when he approached.

Tucker was quarantined for ten days of observation following the bite, and still appeared to be healthy at the date of his death.

But Health Department officials sought to euthanize and test the dog after obtaining copies of his veterinary records. They said "Domestic dogs are spared from being tested for rabies because history shows if they remain healthy 10 days after biting a person, then the person is assured he is not infected.

However, hybrids such as dogs crossed with wolves or coyotes do not necessarily show signs within this quarantine time and must be euthanized and tested, according to state law. This testing must be done even if the animal has been vaccinated against rabies because the vaccine used on domesticated dogs is not assured of preventing rabies in hybrids." the official said.

On March 29, 1994, Judge LeRoy Millettte Jr. ordered that Tucker be euthanized and his brain tissue tested before the ten year old victim began the third series of prophylactic shots.

Tucker was euthanized on March 30th, the morning Moreland had made plans to visit one last time and say goodbye to his beloved pet.

But it wasn't to be. When he arrived at the shelter, unbeknownst to Moreland, Tucker had already been put to death and his head taken for examination.

On the afternoon of the 30th, the report came back negative. "He didn't have rabies before or after the testing" said Moreland's mother.

Moreland said he was totally un-familiar with the term "Wolf Hybrid." "He was a beautiful dog. I had no idea that what I thought was a compliment to my dog would stamp the animal as a wolf hybrid and make me feel responsible for its death."

Tucker was buried March 31 in a purple box with all his toys and his leash.

"It rained the day we got Tucker and rained the day we buried him," said Norma Kellogg, Moreland's mother. The entire family and a friend were there to say goodbye as Tucker was laid to rest on top of bull Run Mountain with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge, one of his favorite running spots.

There is a strong message here, and that is that no dog is safe from confiscation if even one misinformed person thinks it might be part wolf or part coyote. The animal does not even have to be involved in a biting incident. If it ends up at the animal shelter, in most areas it's sentence is automatic. And in ALL areas, if the animal has bitten someone, its death can be expected before any legal action can be instituted.

*note: The Wolf Dog Coalition has been in contact with the owners. Tucker had just had a bath and was very grouchy. The owner told his neighbor's child that he should go home Tucker was not in the mood to play. This is not a case of a dog chained to a tree all day, it is a sad case of a dog that didn't have a chance because his owner had no idea of the implications of claiming wolf cross....we do. Help us stop the senseless death of our pets; whether they are truly wolf hybrids or only look wolfy. Euthanize, what an ugly euphemism. Don't kid yourselves, Animal Control Wardens all over the country are convinced they can tell a wolf hybrid on sight - ours did it, as a result a husky mix is dead (Dakota), the AC Administrator has "resigned for personal reasons" and she is facing a 250k lawsuit. Unfortunately it won't do Dakota a bit of good, his head was separated from his body... Rabies vaccine usage must be approved by USDA for Wolves and Wolfdogs. It won't happen without your support.

To learn more about the issue, read Rabies Vaccine, the Wolf and Wolf Dog, an article by Diana Bendit and Gene Sydnor.

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