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Animal control claims longtime family dog is wolf hybrid, won’t return him to owners

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AURORA, Colo. -- A family said Aurora Animal Control took their dog and won't give him back, claiming the dog is a wolf hybrid.

The Abbato family has had Capone for nearly 10 years. They rescued him from the Adams County Animal Shelter where he was classified as a German Shepherd mix.

The family's veterinarian also says the same thing. But Aurora Animal Control thinks Capone is a wolf hybrid.

"It's been real painful," 11-year-old Ciara Abbato told KDVR.

"Our German Shepherd, Capone, got out Feb. 24. He jumped the fence. It's the first time in the seven years we've lived here," said Capone's owner, Tracy Abbato.

Aurora Animal Control picked up Capone that day, but turned away his family when they tried taking him home.

"They say he is a hybrid wolf now and don't want to release (him) back to us because he is an exotic animal," Abbato said.

The city ran a DNA test to determine his breed on March 1 and if the results prove he's a wolf hybrid, the family dog could be put down.

Animal control said based on Capone's mannerisms, behavior and physical characteristics, they suspect he is part wolf.

"I am 100 percent confident he is not a wolf, not a doubt in my mind," Abbato said.

But while they await the test results, Capone sits in the Aurora Animal Shelter, away from his family and his two buddies who've grown up together from puppies.

"It's hard for me. It's hard for my kids. He's a family member. We've had him for almost 10 years. We miss him," Abbato said.

"I hope they let us keep him because he's really special to me," Ciara said.

If the test shows he is a wolf hybrid, Capone could be shipped off to a wolf sanctuary or euthanized if there isn't room for him.

And the shelter said it cannot adopt Capone out because most cities and counties have rules similar to Aurora's that ban hybrids.

"I don't understand. This dog has a loving, caring home. People who abuse dogs, leave them outside in 2-degree weather, how do they still have their dogs?" Abbato asked.

The family has hired a lawyer and on Wednesday, they'll go to court to ask a judge if Capone can come home while they wait for that DNA test.

Abbato faces violations of animal running at large, keeping an aggressive animal and keeping an exotic/wild animal.