A Dog-napping in Colorado

Mar 16, 2017

The Abbato family of Aurora, Colorado has had its dog, Capone, for nearly as long as 11-year-old Ciara Abbato has been alive. On February 24, the ten-year-old German shepherd mix jumped a fence, which was the first incident of its kind since the family moved to Aurora seven years ago.

After Capone was captured by the city’s Animal Control officer, Tracey Abbato was issued citations for an animal running at large, keeping an aggressive animal, and keeping an exotic or wild animal – because the Animal Control officer claimed that Capone is a wolf hybrid. The dog has been detained in the Aurora Animal Shelter while the city awaits the results of a genetic test. If the results confirm that suspicion, Capone will either be sent to a wolf sanctuary or euthanized if no room is found for him.

The officer who confiscated Capone justified doing so on the basis of “mannerisms, behavior and physical characteristics” that suggested he may be part wolf. The family’s veterinarian, who unlike the animal control officer is a medical specialist, insists that the dog has no wolf ancestry. The family acquired Capone from the Adams County Animal Shelter, a government-operated facility which would not be legally allowed to adopt out the dog if it had lupine progenitors. Now Tracey Abbato faces a city fine for owning a supposedly illegal “exotic” animal she had acquired from a county facility.

“Capone is a family member,” Tracey Abbato insists, saying that she’s still in shock. “We’ve had him for ten years. He has grown up with my kids; it’s devastating.”