County Officials Reject Effort to Save Wolf Dog

A movement to save a dog with wolf heritage from being euthanized by Orange County officials failed to gain traction this week with the Board of Supervisors.

The county’s animal services director recently declared the dog, Karma, to be a danger to the community after it killed two cats and was found to have at least 15 percent wolf heritage. A judge later ordered the county to kill the dog.

Under the order from Orange County Superior Court Judge Corey Cramin, the county has to kill Karma by Oct. 20.

But an online petition drive, calling for Karma to instead be transferred to a wolf sanctuary in the Mojave Desert, has generated over 300,000 signatures worldwide.

The effort drew sympathy from Supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer, who said he drove out to the desert this past weekend “trying to find a home for this animal.”

Spitzer then worked with the county’s attorneys to draft up an agreement to transfer Karma to the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary in Lucerne Valley.

“There are places that rescue these dogs,” Spitzer said at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.  “I don’t want to kill this animal if we don’t have to.”

But his effort -- which would have required seeking a change to the court order – failed to get any support from his other colleagues.

Spitzer didn't go down quietly though. He sharply questioned Dr. Jennifer Hawkins, the county’s animal services director from the dais about her decision to euthanize the dog, as opposed to transferring it to the sanctuary.

Yet Hawkins stood by her decision to euthanize Karma.

“Euthanasia is a reasonable and necessary means” to ensure public safety, Hawkins said.  “I stand by my declaration.”

Hawkins said her decision wasn’t easy, and took into consideration the “high prey drive” of the dog towards cats.  The concern was Karma might not make a distinction between a small animal and a young child, she said.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson, meanwhile, led the opposition to preventing the dog's death, arguing that there’s no basis to ask the judge to overturn his decision.

“To go beg [the judge] now to undo what was just done – what would be the basis for that?  And the answer is there isn’t one, other than we don’t like the decision. And that happens every day," he said.

Spitzer, meanwhile, responded that there are lions and tigers in Orange County that would “rip you apart and eat you,” but are in captivity with certain protections. There are rescues “that specifically take wolf-dog hybrids” to rescue them, he added.

There’s one more opportunity for Karma's death to be avoided, if the county waits to euthanize her until closer to the deadline.  Supervisors will be meeting again on Oct. 6, and can seek court approval to transfer the dog if Spitzer gets two of his colleagues to join him.

You can contact Nick Gerda at, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.