Leo Caddel, 3-months old, was killed by a pet wolf-dog hybrid in Chelsea, Alabama.
Dog Kills Newborn
Chelsea, AL - An infant is dead after being attacked by a pet wolf-dog hybrid, states a press release from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office. On Thursday, at about 12:54 pm, Shelby County deputies, animal control officers, and Chelsea firefighters responded to a home in the 1000 block of County Road 440 about an animal attack involving an infant. The newborn was transported to Grandview Medical Center by ambulance, where it was pronounced dead upon arrival due to its injuries.
The canine, described as a wolf-dog hybrid, was being kept as a pet by the family of the infant. A veterinarian euthanized the dog at the scene. Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer issued a statement confirming the exotic breed. "It’s been confirmed that one of our children here in Chelsea was killed by an exotic family pet and succumbed to their injuries yesterday afternoon after being taken to the hospital by Chelsea Fire & Rescue. We are deeply saddened by this unfortunate and tragic event."
Infant Death Investigation
"On Thursday, November 30, 2023, at approximately 12:54 pm Shelby County 911 received an emergency call reporting an animal attack involving an infant at a residence in the area of County Road 440 in Chelsea. Shelby County deputies, Chelsea firefighters, and Shelby County Animal Control Officers responded to the scene. The infant was transported to an area hospital by ambulance, with a law enforcement escort.
Upon arrival at the hospital, the infant was pronounced dead due to injuries suspected to have been caused by the animal. The animal is described as a wolf-hybrid and was reportedly kept as a pet by the family of the infant. The animal was euthanized at the scene by an area Vet, at the request of law enforcement, and has been transported to the Alabama State Diagnostics Laboratory in Auburn for further examination and investigation. There is no threat to the public. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the circumstances that led to the death of the infant." - Shelby County Sheriff's Office
A commenter on Picklesimer's post asked, "Who keeps a pet wolf hybrid around a newborn?" Someone who is uninformed about wolf-dogs, or someone who practices willful disbelief about their "obvious" genetic reality. On the Chilton/Shelby Public Safety P25 feed at Broadcastify.com, a dispatcher states: "A 3-month old was being carried around in a dog's mouth. Its nose is bleeding. Patient is breathing. Dog is a shepherd-mix. Unknown location of the dog. Law enforcement is also notified."
Similar behavior occurs when a pet husky kills a newborn. Often the infant is sleeping at the time, on a bed or in a crib, and the husky picks the infant up by its head. Last year, after a pet husky killed a 4-day old infant in Cave Springs, Arkansas, the attack language stated, the dog “put its mouth on the baby’s head” and “the husky's tooth penetrated the baby's head.” In 2019, deputies in Hall County, Georgia said the pet husky bit the newborn on the head an "undetermined number of times."
A follow-up report in the Cave Springs death said that police investigators characterized the baby’s bite injuries as “severe injuries to her head.”
In 2018, an 8-day old baby was lying in a bassinet when the family's pet wolf-dog hybrid killed her. She suffered "very serious injuries to the upper body and the head," Sheriff Gary Parsons said. At the time of the attack, the family was fostering two young children that had been approved by the Wise County Department of Social Services to live in the wolf-dog household. The infant's family had acquired the dog a little over 3-years earlier from a Florida-based wolf-dog hybrid breeder, AE Kennel.
Our nonprofit maintains archives for three dog breeds: Fatal Pit Bull Attacks (1833 to present), Fatal Rottweiler Attacks (1978 to present), and Fatal Wolf-Dog Hybrid Attacks (1980 to present). Animal behaviorist and author Alexandra Semyonova wrote the introduction for our wolf-dog hybrid archive and provided a special report. At the time of publication, April 2018, Game of Thrones (2011-2019), which popularized "dire wolves," the surge in the populations of hybrids and huskies had peaked.
According to the Shelby County Reporter, the owners of the wolf-dog hybrid knew about the dog's lineage, but no breeder or kennel has been identified so far. At the time of the deadly attack, there were other children in the home, but none of them were harmed. The Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Shelby County Sheriff's Office continue to investigate circumstances behind the infant's death, and if previous instances of child endangerment occurred in the family's home.
Picklesimer states the dog is part wolf and part shepherd. The most common breeds to create hybrids are Alaskan malamutes, huskies and German shepherds. A report by WTVM states the dog will be tested at an Alabama lab to determine if it is part wolf. However, it's the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory in California that generally carries out the wolf-dog hybrid test. The test can detect wolf-dog hybrids within three generations, but it cannot provide the percentage of wolf ancestry.
The UC Davis test also has critics, which is why identifying the breeder is important. A quick search of Alabama wolf-dog hybrid breeders shows one that advertises "Mid/High Content" puppies that are Embark DNA tested. Embark states its DNA test can detect 350+ breeds and wolves, thus the test can allegedly determine the amount of wolf content in a hybrid. The example of "Luna" shows a high content of gray wolf, followed by Alaskan malamute, German shepherd, husky and samoyed.
Wolf-Dog Hybrid "Kuna"
Based upon the address of the attack location, which is the same address as Dickey Chicks Hatchery on Highway 440, we can confirm this household has a female wolf-dog hybrid, named "Kuna." In our 13-year data set (2005 to 2017), sex of dog was known in 291 of 433 deaths. 5% (15) were inflicted by 1 female. Of the 25 wolf-dog hybrid fatalities (1980 to 2023), sex was known in 17 cases. 35% (6) were inflicted by 1 female, 7 times higher than all other breeds combined in the 13-year data set.
Fourth Alabama Death
The infant's death marks the fourth fatal dog mauling in Alabama this year; three occurred in the Birmingham area. In March, a dog pack killed a 74-year old man in McDonald Chapel, just west of Birmingham. In November, one or more dogs killed a 63-year old woman in Birmingham's Ensley neighborhood. In late July, a 27-year old man was killed by a dog pack in Skipperville, south of Montgomery. The infant's death is a departure from pack attacks that typically afflict this state.
04/23/18: Fatal Wolf-Dog Hybrid Attacks - The Archival Record - DogsBite.org
03/09/18: 2018 Dog Bite Fatality: Pet Wolf-Dog Hybrid Kills 8-Day Old Baby Girl in Virginia
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.