Focus on Indiana’s wolf hybrid laws in the wake of child attack

| May 22, 2013
wolf hybrif

A wolf hybrid. Image by Katie Brady.

The recent attack on a five-year-old boy by a wolf dog in Eaton, Indiana has highlighted the need to enforce wolf hybrid laws in the state more stringently. The terrifying encounter, just a few yards from the child’s front door has left him severely marred. The boy, Chase Fox, has bite marks on his arm and bruises all over the body.

The attack happened when Chase ran near the pet, which was chained up the owner’s backyard. The boy, is recuperating but is still in shock. “He bit me,” Chase told Eyewitness News in a clear, quiet voice.

Chase’s attacker is not just a dog. It is a 65-pound mixed breed, part wolf and part German Shepherd, named Shoshone.

The incident happened suddenly, much to the horror of the boy’s mother. She ran after Chase to save him but could not reach him in time.

“The dog was in attack position, hair standing up on its back and she knew before it got him that it was going to get him. She could see it coming, but just couldn’t get to him fast enough,” explained the boy’s aunt, Kelly VanNatter.

She added, “The dog jumped up and latched onto the underneath of his arm.” It was a kind of a tug-o-war where the boy was pulled in one direction by his mother and the wolf hybrid in the opposite direction. (Source:

wolf hybrid attack injuries

Chase’s injured arm. Image by

Chase suffered serious injuries, with bite marks on his arm and back. The open wounds had to be closed through surgical repairs down to the bone. Bill Smith, the owner of the hybrid, regretted the incident and told Eyewitness News, “I think she (Shoshone) was wanting to keep the little boy. I’ve been so upset about it. I hope to God the little boy’s arm is okay.”

Apart from failing to have Shoshone’s vaccination up to date, Smith has also violated Indiana’s wolf hybrid law. This law requires a wolf dog to be under a person’s control with a leash not more than eight feet long. Indiana also requires the owners of wolf hybrids to keep them in a secure, roofed enclosure. Section IC 15-20-1-3 of the law states that the liability of a dog bite lies with the owner if it bites a person without any provocation.

Lt. William Browne, a conservation officer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said, “It has to be a fenced in area that can contain the animal with a six-foot fence that doesn’t allow the escape of the animal.”


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Bill Smith is willing to take responsibility for his wolf dog. He admitted that his pet is unpredictable at times. Although he began to construct a fence around his pet within days of the attack, it is not six feet tall.

Chase’s family is concerned about the safety of other children. VanNatter said, “If they don’t start following the law and do what it is that is mandatory for that breed, the next time it’s not going to end as well as what his did. If you are a responsible pet owner, you follow the guidelines, you research your breed, what it is that the law states and you’re responsible with it, I have no problem with anybody owning one.”

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Category: Guard Dog Animals, Surveillance