Wolf-dog Hybrids: Arkansas Code | Owner Consent for Rabies Inoculation
The ownership of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) cross-bred to wolves (Canis lupus) has been increasing in recent years. The Arkansas Department of Health, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV), the American Veterinary Medical Association and other public health and animal welfare groups recommend against maintaining hybrids as pets. The Compendium of Animal Rabies Control, produced annually by the NASPHV, has consistently recommended against rabies vaccination for these animals and advises that wolf-dog hybrids involved in a human bite be euthanized and tested for rabies regardless of the circumstances. There are no rabies vaccines licensed for use in hybrids. The viral shedding period in wolf-dog hybrids has not been documented to allow an acceptable post-bite observation period to be established.
These strict recommendations create several problems. Recommending against vaccination puts the veterinarian and owner in direct conflict with local mandatory rabies vaccination laws. There are no objective tests or methods to determine if an animal is a hybrid. Such a determination must usually be based on the owner's claim and should be recorded in veterinary records, police reports and summons or other official documents. Owners may claim their mixed breed dog is a wolf-dog hybrid for prestige or economic purposes or, conversely, hide the fact the animal is a hybrid for fear of legal repercussions.
The state of Arkansas has a wolf-dog hybrid law, § 20-19-401--408, that is regulated by the Arkansas Department of Health. It requires the owner of a wolf-dog hybrid or a wolf to do several things, including
- Maintain records of health, acquisitions and disposals
- Provide adequate confinement and feeding
- Adequate confinement is specifically detailed
- Adequate feeding is specified
- Rabies vaccination by a licensed veterinarian
- No licensed vaccine is available for wolf-dog hybrids so off-label usage is necessary
- If the wolf-hybrid bites a person, the vaccination will not necessarily prevent the animal from being euthanized and tested for rabies, or quarantined
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission also has regulations applicable to the possession, breeding, and sale of wolves. More information is available at http://www.agfc.com/species/Pages/SpeciesCaptiveWildlife.aspx