Canton police are investigating the recent theft of a pet wolf-hybrid outside of a family's home while the wolf's owners prepare to move over the backlash they've received for owning such an animal.
“She’s part of the family," said Vicki Wingert. "And it really disturbs us because we have people literally coming and stalking and watching our house, watching our background, approaching the children, approaching the youngest one. And it’s not right.”
Wingert and her husband own a 120 pound, four-foot tall wolf hybrid named Bohemian. She is two percent shepherd.
“She’s beyond friendly," she said. "She’s really good with people.”
Bohemian is almost always tethered out front of the Wingert's family home during the day and kept outside in a crate at night. That is sparking criticism.
“She isn’t abused," said Wingert. "In the cold weather, she enjoys it. She’s not cold. If it was bad and she was cold, we’d have her in the house.”
The Stark County Humane Society and dog warden agreed that Bohemian is not abused. Both agencies said they have checked on the wolf hybrid multiple times, and she is healthy and thriving in the low temperatures, her natural habitat.
But that hasn't stopped a social media war against the Wingerts and uninvited visitors to their property.
“If she were to be out [in the wild], she wouldn’t know how to hunt down a deer," added Wingert. "She’d be scared to death, and she’d eventually die. She couldn't join a pack because they would reject her."
Wingert said she rescued Bohemian as a baby. She is now six years old.
While they prepare to move, Wingert said she sleeps next to the porch window so she can listen for potential thieves.
“They’re trying to take her constantly," she said.
She also put a padlock on Bohemian's collar and leash.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Wingert does not need a special permit to own Bohemian because she is two percent shepherd. But Wingert recently licensed her through the dog warden anyway.
There are currently no state laws against tethering dogs outside.
Canton police said no charges have been filed in any of the cases related to Bohemian.