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Wolf-dog Hybrid Breeder Busted

Comal County court rules against wolf-hybrid owner
By: James Lozada, News 9 San Antonio

The battle over 14 wolf-hybrids went to court in Comal County Friday and ended with the arrest of the animals' owner.

The Comal County Sheriff's Office seized the animals three weeks ago after finding the wolf-hybrid dogs living in filth.

The owner tried to get her animals back, however she quickly found herself in jail.

In court, picture after picture showed the conditions Comal County sheriff's deputies found 14 wolf-hybrids living in.

The wolf-hybrids were turned over to the New Braunfels Humane Society. Comal County paid $200 a day to care for the animals.

A court ruling Friday decided the fate of the animals.

The wolf-hybrids owner, Michelle Newman, appealed a previous court ruling. She wanted her animals back and testified she loves them.

However, Judge Brenda Chapman denied that request and awarded custody to the humane society. She also ruled having the dogs in overcrowded conditions was cruel.

"They were in real small cages, there were two to a cage, there was about 3 inches to 4 inches of their feces, their water bowls were green with algae, they weren't being regularly maintained," Assistant District Attorney Michael Zamora said.

After the proceeding, the animal's owner and her attorney deputies were surprised when Michelle Newman was arrested for animal cruelty. It's a class A misdemeanor that will likely carry a stiff fine.

"I don't think they were mistreated, I think under the circumstances and an unfortunate series of events they were temporarily confined in less than ideal conditions, but I don't believe they were mistreated, no," defense attorney Ramiro Estrada said.

The judge stopped any financial support from the county to the humane society. She also ruled the Humane Society must either find a permanent shelter for the wolf-hybrids, or put them down.

"We've come up with a temporary solution for 30 days and that gives other places more time, so all I can do is hope that that's what happens," Humane Society Director Cheryl Kreuger said. "If they have to go down that's sad, but it's understandable."

Understandable, she said, because the animals are wild and can therefore not be adopted.

Michelle Newman faces one count of animal cruelty, but more charges could be levied against her.

Newman told the court if she got custody of the animals she would have visited them every day at a friend's property in Atascosa county.

However, investigators testified the property had junk cars, trash and 10 dogs on it, including a pit bull chained to a truck and a Mastiff that appeared malnourished.

The judge said the location is unfit for humans, let alone dogs.



Comal County Sheriff's office seizes wolves from residence
6/19/2003 11:22 PM
By: James Lozada, News 9 San Antonio

The New Braunfels Humane Society took 14 wolf-hybrid animals into custody
after the Comal County Sheriff's Office seized them three weeks ago when
they found the animals living in filth.

Some of the animals are purebred wolves. Others are part wolf, part dog. The
humane society said all of the animals are dangerous.

"I haven't seen any of them that have been a great and wonderful pet," New
Braunfels Humane Society Chery Kreuger said.

Detectives have discovered the owner of the animals is a San Antonio woman.
She had convinced an acquaintance to let her keep them on his property.

However, when conditions got bad he called authorities.

"Very little fresh water, food, that sort of thing," Comal County Sheriff's
Office detective James Rose said. "Feces all over the ground where the cages
had not been cleaned out. Very, very small cages for the size of the dogs.
Seriously bad conditions for a dog to be kept in."

The case is now in court. One judge has ruled the county can have custody of
the animals, but the owner has appealed. The case will therefore go to a
higher Comal County court.

"I never expected to have 14 wolf-hybrids in my facility," Kreuger said.

The New Braunfels Humane Society was not built to house wolf-hybrids. The
animals eat more food, have torn up doors and require extra security.

"It's costing the shelter a lot more money than normal for the care of these
animals," Kreuger said.

Several agencies are trying to get the animals placed in a permanent
shelter. They've looked all over the country, however no one has been able
to help.

The owner of the dogs said she wants the animals back. She told detectives
she will keep the dogs in Atascosa County.

Another woman came forward to testify that the owner has a history of
problems with her animals.

If the humane society cannot find a shelter for the animals they could be
euthanized. The animals will not be put up for adoption as pets.



How could this horror have been prevented?

A Home Check done by the breeders of those confiscated animals before placement could have been instrumental in preventing this tragedy.




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