AURORA - A family in Aurora will be back in court Wednesday after animal control said the German shepherd lab mix they've owned for 10 years may in fact be a dog-wolf hybrid.
It's illegal to own any wild animal hybrid in the city of Aurora, according to Aurora Animal Control.
Capone has been living with the Abbatos in Aurora ever since he was taken home from the Adams County Animal Shelter about a decade ago.
Last month, he jumped the fence and ran away.
His owner, Tracy Abbato, thought she'd be relieved when she heard Aurora Animal Control picked him up. She was horrified when she heard their response.
City officials told her they couldn't give the dog back because they suspected it was a wolf-hybrid.
"They said he has characteristics of a wolf," Abbato said, "I asked what those characteristics were. They didn't give me any explanation other than he was aggressive."
Michael Bryant with the Aurora Animal Shelter said officers suspected Capone could be a hybrid based on "experience and behavior" but did not go into the details of the case because it's under investigation.
The shelter is holding on to Capone until they find out whether he's a wolf hybrid from a DNA test, which should be completed two weeks from now. Tracy feels like her kids are being punished.
"They sleep with the dog at night and it's hard watching my kids because they're taking it rough," Abbato said.
If the DNA test comes back positive for a wolf hybrid, a judge will determine if Capone should be euthanized or go to a sanctuary for wild animals.
As far as the state of Colorado is concerned, as long as a dog is at least 1% domesticated, it's legal. However, local laws can override that, including Aurora's law.
Officials say the Abbatos are facing several charges for Capone including: having an aggressive animal and having a dog run at large.
The Abbatos say they have another court hearing Wednesday to answer to the charges.
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