Lake City, MI
Hearing may decide
fate of wolf-dogs
Prosecutor wants them
put in sanctuaries
Record-Eagle staff writer
LAKE CITY - Josephine Tibbits' property is overrun with
wolf-like dogs she raises. She admits she needs help, but she's
fighting a Missaukee County effort to remove the animals.
About 80 wolves, wolf-dog mixes and other large dogs live in
cages on an enclosed slab at the rear of her property. They also sit
hooked onto a chain behind her house, or roam within a fence that
encircles her home.
A hearing that could decide whether the animals are removed is
scheduled Monday before 84th District Court Judge David A. Hogg.
Prosecutor William Donnelly wants the animals removed and placed
in wildlife sanctuaries if possible by May 8. If no sanctuaries can be
found, they would be killed, according to an order Donnelly wants Hogg
Tibbits has kept large dogs on her property with her husband,
Gregory, for more than a decade. She said she accepts dogs and
wolf-dog mixes that other people cannot handle because she can care
She said county officials shouldn't be allowed to take her
animals because they can't prove the animals are wolves or wolf-dog
mixes. Many of her dogs look like wolves but could be other dog
breeds, she said.
"I am not a professional, what people have told me is what I go
on, but there's no proof" that the dogs are wolves, she said.
County officials took a closer look at the conditions on Tibbits'
property after a fellow animal lover was bitten Dec. 28 by one of the
Sharon Smith entered a cage to feed a wolf-dog mix named
Cherokee when the dog bit her face. Smith, 60, said she now needs
reconstructive surgery on her lips and nose, and she has nerve damage
on the right side of her face.
Before the dog bite, Smith wanted to help Tibbits establish a
nonprofit wolf sanctuary on the property.
Now Smith hopes the animals can be removed to sanctuaries where
she believes they will receive better care.
Smith said she plans to file a lawsuit against Tibbits and her
husband for damages she suffered from the dog bite.
"I blame them, I don't blame the dog," Smith said.
Lisa Carpenter, another former volunteer who once helped Tibbits
and now hopes to see the animals removed, said she watched the
wolf-dog population explode because Tibbits didn't separate males and
"There's just one litter after another," Carpenter said.
Tibbits defended the condition in which the animals are kept.
She said she is working with a veterinarian to have the dogs spayed
and neutered. As for the dog bite, she blames that on Smith, who she
said was told several times not to enter Cherokee's cage.
"I feel very bad that she did get a bite, I really do," she
said. But "I've never had an incident in 12 years, never had a dog
bite in 12 years."
Known, long time MI
breeder/collector of "wolf-dog mixes" now claims the animals are not
part wolf. She continued to breed the animals long after the ban on
wolfX animals went onto effect in Michigan. Either she
perpetrated a fraud for years by selling the animals as wolf-dog
hybrids, or she is lying now. Either way, it is the animals that
suffer the consequences. As always...