Although wolf cubs and puppies start life as identical furry blobs, at about two weeks they begin to differ dramatically. Because of these differences, dogs will eventually be trainable companions for humans while the wolf will forever be feral.
Depending on the source, dogs have been domesticated for between 15,000 to 36,000 years. The qualities we look for in a canine companion are not qualities that a wild animal has.
Through over ten years of writing this blog, I have found two stories besides Capone of dogs being mistaken for a wild animal by people running animal shelters, people who probably should be digging ditches or cleaning toilets.
I wrote about one case in 2010 involving a registered 11-year-old Shiba Inu named Copper who was mistaken for a coyote.
Copper escaped from the fenced Kentucky backyard of her owner, Lori Goodlett. That day a local police officer, Major Fred Heaton, picked her up as a stray and took her to the humane society in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Thousands of years of domesticity were evident as Copper was very polite, making no effort to attack the officer or run away as he brought her in.
About an hour or so later, “personnel from the Humane Society called and told us that the officer would have to return and get the animal, because it was a coyote,” he reported. Coyotes, they told him, were nuisance animals and should either be killed or released into the wild.
The officer reluctantly picked her up, and again she went along quietly as he released her into the woods behind an abandoned Home Depot. It wasn’t until he saw the missing dog flyers for Copper that the officer realized the mistake.
Hundreds of police officers and volunteers searched the wilderness, but Copper was never found.
I wrote about Scrappy in 2009. Scrappy, a 9-year-old Nordic mixed breed dog, dug her way under the fence following a heavy rain. She had probably been reading too much Jack London and wanted to have some adventures as Buck or White Fang.
When she got busted she obediently got into the van, knowing the jig was up.
When her owner, Crystal Smith, went to pay the fine and get her released, all went well at first. Then Police Sgt. Scott Raudabaugh, Des Moines' chief humane officer, decided that Scrappy “looked like a wolf” and he ordered her to be locked up again.
The city of Des Moines had a law against keeping wolves as pets. There were no laws against wolf dog hybrids. Scrappy’s owner insisted that she isn’t a wolf, but she couldn’t prove the exact heritage of a mixed breed dog.
Since apparently there were no DNA tests available at the time to settle the matter, Scrappy was eventually placed with an animal trainer for evaluation. Smith and Scrappy were separated for six months while the evaluation went on and they awaited a court hearing.
Eventually a judge ruled that Scrappy could return home. He further said that the dog had been improperly seized from her owners.
Obviously Raudabaugh, who is supposed to have some expertise in his job, based his opinion strictly on looks since there were never wolf behavior patterns in the nine years of Scrappy's life.
Some people should never have positions of power where they can hurt people or animals.