Karma the Wolf Dog Receives a Stay of Execution; Sentenced to Life in a Wolf Sanctuary
Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 – 2:11 PM
(CNS) – Karma the wolf-dog will live.
An Orange County judge today overturned his previous ruling that the animal be euthanized and said Karma can be sent to a wolf sanctuary in North Carolina, despite animal control officials’ insistence the dog is vicious — noting that it once killed two cats in an Anaheim neighborhood.
“Despite the nomenclature of ‘menacing’ or ‘vicious’ dogs, the court is actually addressing irresponsible pet ownership,” Judge Corey S. Cramin ruled in a written order. “Karma is as much a victim as the people and pets who were harmed by Karma.”
The ruling came two days after the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2, with Andrew Do and Shawn Nelson dissenting, to support placing Karma in the Full Moon Farm wolf sanctuary. The dog was deemed a wolf-dog hybrid by county animal-control officials, but attorney Christine Garcia, who represents Karma’s owners, said she has papers to prove he is a purebred Siberian Husky.
Cramin earlier ordered the dog be put to sleep, prompting an online petition signed by thousands of people who want Karma spared.
“I’m just happy her life was spared,” said Josh Ogle, who lost custody of the dog and his four children in May following a domestic dispute with his wife, Tiffany.
“Our first and foremost concern was getting her out of the pound,” Ogle told City News Service. “This is a great win today.”
Orange County Board Chairman Todd Spitzer, who led the fight to save the dog’s life, said the county has a “side agreement” with the judge that Karma cannot be returned to the Ogles. Also, if Full Moon Farm officials deem the dog acceptable for adoption by a new family that the placement must be approved by Orange County officials, he added.
“We’ve gone from death, to adoption, to possible reunification with a family, which is as good a karma as you can have,” Spitzer said.
Ogle said he has attorneys working on a civil rights lawsuit to have the dog returned to him because he said he considers Karma a “service animal,” who helps him with the post-traumatic stress disorder he said he suffered in a home-invasion attack on his daughter. Ogle said he has suffered from “recurring nightmares” since the attack and Karma is trained to search rooms for him.
“My (Americans with Disabilities Act) rights have been violated,” Ogle said.
Ogle acknowledged that police were called to his home for a “disturbance of the peace” because of “raised voices” between him and his wife. He said he has been in court frequently in recent weeks trying to win back custody of his four children, who are with a foster family.
Tiffany Ogle was due in court today in the North Justice Center in Fullerton on misdemeanor charges of corporal injury on a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, child abuse and endangerment, being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.
Josh Ogle pleaded guilty May 11 to false representing himself to a police officer, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 20 days in jail, according to court records. He also pleaded guilty June 26 to misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest, falsely representing himself to an officer and assault and was sentenced to 32 days in jail and three years of informal probation.
Josh Ogle also pleaded guilty June 5 to misdemeanor disturbing the peace and had a child abuse and endangerment misdemeanor count dismissed. For that he was sentenced to 20 days in jail.
Garcia, who represented the Ogles in their dog’s case, told City News Service Tuesday she hoped the judge would return the animal to its owners, “but if that’s not possible we would like the dog to live out the rest of his life happy in a sanctuary.”
Garcia said “seven generations can be proven” in the dog’s lineage. Animal control officials viewed the dog as a hybrid, but Garcia said all Siberian Husky’s have wolf ancestry that will show up in tests.
“In fact, every dog is going to have some wolf in him, even a beagle,” Garcia said.
The county supervisors held a special meeting Monday on the 4-year-old dog’s fate. The move came after a contentious debate last week, when OC Animal Care Director Jennifer Hawkins, a veterinarian, stood by her designation of Karma as a vicious dog that should be put down. Spitzer said the board’s Monday decision was not meant to overrule Hawkins’ ruling, but to find a home for the animal.
Spitzer’s motion to place the dog with the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary in Lucerne Valley last week failed when no one would second the move.
After Karma was impounded, OC Animal Care officials determined the husky was part-wolf and could not be properly vaccinated against rabies. They also noted that the animal in 2012 killed two cats in its Anaheim neighborhood while roaming free, demonstrating that it is a vicious animal.
At last week’s board meeting, Spitzer argued that the dog was “neglected and not fed,” prompting it to hunt down the two cats.
“So hungry dog, neglected by drug users, gets out and does what it is trained to do — goes after a cat just like Wile E. Coyote,” Spitzer said.
Hawkins said such behavior isn’t acceptable.
“It’s not common for dogs to be killing cats — that is why this (vicious dog) code exists,” she said.
Hawkins conceded that it was a “tough call” to decide the dog’s fate, but she insisted the animal poses a threat to the public and needs to be put to sleep. Hawkins cited a separate incident in which the dog aggressively ran at a woman carrying a child.
“She had to throw water (at the dog) and run and try to get away from the dog,” Hawkins said.
Although Spitzer contended the dog did not knock down the woman or bite or attack the children, Hawkins insisted that “in my professional opinion, that is very close to being aggressive.”
Nelson blasted Spitzer for wanting to go against the advice of the county’s professional animal care director — as well as the judge who sided with Hawkins on the dog’s viciousness.