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Dog or wolf -- the answer will mean life or death
Sascha was impounded and is scheduled to be put down in early February.
By Daniel Bergen
Updated: 11:46 p.m. ET Jan. 25, 2004

Jan. 21 - Some look at Sascha and see a hybrid wolf -- illegal in Alaska. But Sascha's owner disagrees, and now the apparent hybrid wolf is getting a lot of attention.

The city seized her and is planning to put her down. Officials say Sascha was kept illegally for years at a Jewel Lake home by a woman named Aimee Cozad. Now the city has taken control of Sascha, planning her death as others fight for her life.

Sascha escaped from Cozad's yard earlier this month and was impounded after state officials shot her with a tranquilizer. "No one can own one as a pet," says biologist Rick Sinnott with the Department of Fish and Game.

For decades, hybrid wolves have been illegal in Alaska. They're thought to easily transmit disease and to be dangerously unpredictable. "The possibilities of them hurting somebody, they're big animals, when they bite, they can do some serious damage," Sinnott says. "People have been killed by them."

It is Sascha who may now be killed, scheduled to be put down in early February as is the practice with illegal animals. Cozad said late Wednesday that she will be appealing the action, by requesting a municipal hearing.

She won't be the only one interested in saving Sascha. A number of Outside sanctuaries have expressed their interest in saving Sascha, looking to house her and use her as part of their educational programs.

"We're actually very interested in providing her with a new home," says Vivian Singer-Ferris, executive director of the Kerwood Wolf Education Center in Ontario, Canada. "We received, I think, it's close to a few hundred phone telephone calls and e-mails about her."

The effort may all be for naught. The state considers Sascha contraband and says it doesn't ship contraband. "We've never issued a permit, to this date, to transfer or possess a wolf-hybrid in the state of Alaska, and my guess is we won't start now."

The state says it shouldn't be blamed for Sascha's death, but rather the humans that produced her and kept her should be. For now, the wolf-dog's life hangs in the balance, a life now spent in a quarantine cell, far from the yard she seemingly escaped.

There is no fail-safe method of determining whether an animal is a hybrid. Biologists say they are sure it is, but that's difficult to prove in court. In fact, state troopers chose not to bring any charges against Cozad, finding it would be too difficult to prove. Under state law, any sign of wolf in a dog makes it a hybrid.


Sascha is now with in Canada:



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