CHESAPEAKE, Ohio — John DeBoard has always had a thing about wolves.
Since Ohio law prohibits people from owning wolves without a dangerous animal permit, he’s decided to do the next best thing and now has four hybrid wolves at his home in the Chesapeake area. Hybrid wolves or wolf-dogs are a mixture of wolves and domestic dogs, primarily huskies or Alaskan malamutes.
“It all started about a year ago when I bought Cheyenne,” DeBoard said. “She’s just a big baby. I love hybrid wolves. I have four of them now, and I want to set up a hybrid wolf sanctuary in the Chesapeake area.”
“I have an acre, but I’m trying to find more property and set up a nonprofit, 501(C)3,” he said. “Ohio considers a hybrid wolf a domestic dog. I want to save them. Some people will buy them and then want to get rid of them by turning them loose or taking them to kill shelters.”
Mayor Dick Gilpin said someone with a hybrid wolf came into his store to buy a key and he asked about the animal. “I was concerned at first when he said it was a hybrid wolf, but the animal was real friendly. It was real timid.”
Hybrid wolves are considered dogs under Ohio law, said Ron Ollis, a law enforcement program administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “They’re regulated like a dog,” he said.
A study done by the United States Department of Agriculture several years ago noted that the animals were growing in popularity as pets, and estimated there were 300,000 hybrids, or wolf dogs as they are sometimes called, in the United States. Several states require permits, and a few do not allow residents to have hyrid wolves.