Juneau, 1988. Our family pet dog, a Norwegian Elkhound turned on our then 4-year-old daughter and bit her in the face. After a nightmarish visit to the emergency room, we were fortunate enough to locate an oral surgeon who put her mouth back together. It was a very surprising attack to all of us. After discussions with veterinary and legal professionals it was determined that the responsible thing to do was to put the dog down. Had this event happened to one of the many neighborhood kids, I would, in all actuality, have had a legal problem on my hands. Since we had a known biter, a second attack would not be in anyone's best interest, especially my daughter, and my legal liability would have increased tremendously.
Fast forward to the local wolf problem. Is this in fact a wolf from the wild, or some hybrid stray or abandoned animal? Regardless, it has now been recognized as a threat and should be treated as such. Springtime is fast approaching and outdoor activities are increasing. Food source will be of the wolf's determination and capability. The differences of opinions within the community are to be expected in relation to the level of the Alaska wilderness experience desired. So, Rin Tin Tin to some, Cujo to others. But it does require a determination of threat and a determination of liability. But most importantly it requires a responsible decision to both the animal and the community.
The decision to put our family pet down was not made easily. It still disturbs me that I gave her the command to jump up onto the gurney. It disturbs me further to remember the screams of my 4-year-old daughter struggling in my lap, terrified, until the IV took over.
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