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Owner of Muskegon County Wolf Dog Sanctuary avoids jail, but judge says no more animals

Female Gray Wolf at Detroit Zoo
Maia C/Flickr
Creative Commons
Female Gray Wolf at Detroit Zoo

Howling Timbers closed down last year after an animal bit a young girls arm off

The owner of an illegal wolf sanctuary in Muskegon County will no longer be allowed to own animals after pleading no contest in court.

Authorities had filed criminal charges against the owner of Howling Timbers, Brenda Pearson, for not having the license to own the wolf dogs, coyotes, turtles, and other exotic animals that is required by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

According to the Animal Welfare Information Center, a wolfdog is a canine produced by the mating of a domestic dog with a gray wolf, eastern wolf, red wolf, to produce a hybrid. While a single wolfdog can be domesticated and made into house pets, the animals can often be aggressive when housed in large groups.

Three years ago, state conservation officers raided the sanctuary after a wolf bit Pearson’s granddaughter arm off as she reached into the pen, though Pearson denied the allegation.

Her trial was expected to start this week, where Pearson faced one count of violating Michigan’s Wolf-Dog-Cross Act, which regulates and prohibits who can own possess and care for the hybrid animals.

Instead, Pearson pleaded no contest in court, and in doing so avoids jail, however Judge Annette Smedley did order that Pearson may no longer own or possess animals of any kind.

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