A dog who was taken away from his family because officials thought he was part wolf has returned home.
Named Capone, the black Labrador shepherd mix was seized by animal control in late February after he was found roaming loose in the Denver neighborhood of Aurora, according to The Denver Post. (The family says it was the first time in seven years the rescue dog escaped their fenced-in yard). When his family went to claim him, officials said not so fast.
Based on how he looked and acted, animal control thought he was a wolf-hybrid, which is outlawed in the city.
“The responding officer assessed the dog, which had been at the (neighbor’s) residence for five hours, and noted continued aggressive behavior, including approaching with bared teeth, low growling, hard stare and lowered head,” Aurora officials told the Aurora Sentinel in a statement.
The owner refuted this claim.
“He’s not aggressive. Capone is a very mellow, laid back dog,” Tracy Abbato told Time magazine. “He’s a typical dog. He’s a family member. He doesn’t bother anybody.”
Before officers would release Capone, they ordered a DNA test. As what was expected, the DNA test showed no wolf in the dog.
“DNA tests prove that Capone is not a wolf hybrid,” said Jennifer Edwards, attorney and founder of The Animal Law Center. “Aurora Animal Control incorrectly alleged a claim that was proven scientifically incorrect. Clearly the conclusion was indicative of what we have known for a long time; there is a lack of training and expertise in visual identification of breeds and species.”
Despite being exonerated, Capone was not free to go home. His owners, Abbato along with Tito Serrano, faced a number of charges, including being in possession of a dangerous animal, not having a dog license and allowing their dog to roam free.
According to the Animal Law Center the dog will also be required to wear a muzzle when he goes on walks, and have him on a 6-foot retractable leash in the yard.
These two requirements will be lifted upon the owners getting a fence.