Wolf-Dogs On Patrol!
Guard Duty At Angola Maximum Security Prison!
The consequences of mismanagement of dogs and irresponsible ownership often due to a lack of general knowledge of animal care and ignorance about the breed they own can be very serious, with the potential to lead to euthanasia for the offending animal.
Credit: Rush Jagoe for the Wall Street Journal
Wolf-dog “Chief “of British Colombia wolf and German shepherd ancestry is a prime example of when things go wrong and an animal is allowed to get out of control.
According to local residents Chief would frequently “escape from his owners’ property and terrorize them.” A Pointe Coupee Parish ‘Animal Control Ordinance’ states that: “All dogs must be confined to an owner’s property, or secured on a leash when they are not.”
The result of these allegations was a court order for his destruction for aggressive behaviour. Chief was lucky. His story made the papers and was seen by state Prison Officials at the 18,000-acre maximum security prison known as Angola -the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections State Penitentiary at Angola. Their request to use Chief as a guard dog at Angola was approved, and an order releasing him from custody was signed by Judge James Best of 18th Judicial District Court..
Angola’s Prison Warden
“When we saw this dog in the paper, we thought it would be a shame to euthanize it.” ~Deputy Warden Bruce Dodd .
Angola which has 5,300 inmates. More than half who have been convicted of killing someone, and three quarters whom are serving life sentences without parole.
The state prison has developed a program which since 2011 has used wolf-dogs such as Chief deployed at night to patrol within perimeter fencing encircling the prison’s individual camps. The wolf dogs regularly guard at least three of the seven camps that make up the complex.
Combined with the use of surveillance cameras, the program has helped secure the prison following personnel layoffs related to recent budget cuts 105 out of 1,200 officers have been cut and 35 of the 42 guard towers now stand empty on the 18,000-acre prison grounds. Some states have chosen to replace them with cameras and motion sensors.
“I will use anything I can, it costs $20,000 a day to catch an escapee. It may take me 100 people to cover the streams and creeks and roads. I have to pay all those people overtime. The wolf dogs are a strong psychological deterrent. The wolf ate Grandma,” ~ Warden Burl Cain
They also save money. “The average correctional officer at Angola earns about $34,000 a year, By comparison the canine program, which includes about 80 dogs—the wolf hybrids along with other breeds for other tasks— costs about $60,000 annually for medical care, supplies and food.” ~ prison spokesman
The Breeding Programme
“We actually breed wolf hybrids here and raise them. Chief’s aggressive behaviour would make him a perfect fit among the dozen or more wolf dog hybrids already on duty at the prison. That’s the purpose of them. We don’t want them to be vicious killers, but to be aggressive. They become a security measure.” ~Dodd
Before being allowed out on patrol Chief will undergo training with a handler.
Credit: Rush Jagoe for the Wall Street Journal
However according to Chief’s original owner, he has lived with herself and her son, who he was purchased for at 5 weeks old, and has been raised and cared for by, and whilst she is very happy Chief is now off death row, says;
“He’s not going to do well without us. We’re his family. I think he’s going to be really, really stressed. We keep him inside our air-conditioned home. I feed him oatmeal for breakfast. You think they’re going to feed him that?” ~ Vicky Smith
The understanding between Angola and the court, says all of the prison’s dogs are “well kept and given top veterinarian care.”
“Chief is harmless and has never “bit or hurt anyone. It’s not right what they’re doing. I was going to sell my house and move out of the parish to keep my dog. I want my dog back, but once he goes to Angola I don’t think I’ll get him.” ~ Vicky Smith
Notable Wolf-dogs of the Breeding Programme
- Full-blooded timber wolf -Sanak, (Su-nack,) is the mother of the vast majority of Angola’s Wolf-dogs, and her current mate, Zeus-the German Shepherd Dog is kennelled next to her.
This is Mr. Cain’s second attempt at developing a breeding programme after a first and unsuccessful experimental breeding program in 2005. This had involved breeding Lobo – a Mexican wolf with dogs to produce tracker dogs to re-capture escapee prisoners. But they proved unpredictable and had little interest in protecting their handlers. 2008’s Hurricane Gustav freed Lobo to flee after a damaged tree smashed into his kennel.
- Wolf is a 120-pound amber eyed canine cross between a wolf and a malamute:
“Wolf is the biggest of the hybrids. He showed his speed and predatory nature recently when a wild turkey flew into the pen; he caught and killed it before it could get back out.” ~Warden Burl Cain.
Training and Patrolling
“Each animal has about 330 yards of territory and can cover it ‘very quickly’. The animals mark their territory when put on duty.”
“Nobody yet has tried to overpower or outrun them. Inmates are keenly aware of the four-legged security force prowling the perimeter.” ~ Lou Cruz, 55 years old, serving life for a murder he committed in Jefferson Parish near Gretna in 1981.
You might run but they’re going to catch you.” ~ Daryl Aucoin, Inmate dog handler
”How do you train a wolf dog? Very carefully and with lots of hot dogs. It takes a lot of time. Wolves are like other canines. They’re pack animals. And they are slow to trust Unlike other dogs, which might listen to any number of handlers, the wolf dogs “will listen to only one of us,” ~ Capt. Robert Tyler, the primary trainer.
“I’m just glad for the dog. It’s a beautiful ending and the community got some relief. The dog is going to provide good service and be well taken care of.”~ Judge James Best of 18th Judicial District Court after signing the order to release Chief to Angola.
Wall Street Journal