City of Lead looks at redefining term wolf hybrid

LEAD, S.D. (AP) — Officials in Lead are working to redefine the term wolf hybrid in an ordinance that prohibits keeping wild animals as pets inside the Black Hills city’s limits.

The effort was prompted by a May incident in which a dog that officials say is a wolf hybrid escaped from its enclosure and injured another dog, Officer Paul Witcraft told the Black Hills Pioneer (http://bit.ly/15Y6GSO ).

Witcraft says he’s working on further defining what a wolf hybrid is in order to strengthen the ordinance.

Police Chief John Wainman said Mark Valdez has had his dogs in Lead for many years, and the incident was the first of its kind.

“He’s a great pet owner,” Wainman said. “I just don’t think we want hybrid wolves.”

The ordinance defines hybrids as “any animals that have been bred with wolves resulting in a wolf hybrid.”

Valdez said his dogs are Siberian huskies, not wolves, with bloodlines that go back 30 years, and he has documentation to support the claim.

Lead police obtained a search warrant to conduct a DNA test for the dogs. Witcraft said he sent the sample to the S.D. Animal Control board and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for testing, and the sample came back positive for a wolf hybrid.

But Valdez said he conducted his own DNA test. He took his dogs to the veterinarian, had blood drawn, and sent it to Mars Animal Laboratory in Nebraska. The results came back negative for a wolf hybrid, he said.

“My sample wasn’t contaminated by a chain of custody like there’s was,” Valdez said. “My sample was done by a veterinarian and it was sent by the veterinarian. Theirs was done by a veterinarian technician, the blood sample was out of my sight for a few minutes, and a sample of blood was brought out and handed to Paul Witcraft. So there is a chain of custody there. Who knows if that was my dog’s DNA.”

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, http://www.bhpioneer.com

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