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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 to approve.
      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 for them.
      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 alleged wolf-dogs.
      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 females.
      "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...



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