A wolf hybrid kept as a family pet fatally attacked a 3-month-old in Alabama, officials said.
The animal lived with the infant’s family in Chelsea, according to a news release from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
The animal attacked the child shortly before 1 p.m. on Nov. 30, deputies said. Deputies, firefighters and animal control responded to the call of an animal attack at a residence.
First responders rushed the child to a hospital, where he died of injuries sustained in the suspected attack. Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans told McClatchy News in an email the victim was a 3-month-old boy.
A veterinarian euthanized the animal, deputies said.
“We are deeply saddened by this unfortunate and tragic event,” Chelsea mayor Tony Picklesimer said in a Dec. 1 statement. “We lift up the family and all those affected with our deepest prayers and thoughts.”
Some states ban keeping wolf hybrids as pets or place restrictions on their ownership.
“Alabama is one of four states that allows ownership of exotic animals as pets without specific restrictions,” Picklesimer told McClatchy News in an email.
The ownership of wolf-dog hybrids in the U.S. is contentious, according to the International Wolf Center.
“People who own hybrids often find that their pet’s behavior makes it a challenge to care for,” the center says.
Though dogs evolved from wolves, they were domesticated over thousands of years, making their behavior different from that of wild wolves.
“Every year, thousands of pet wolves or hybrids are abandoned, rescued, or euthanized because people purchase an animal they were not prepared to care for,” according to the center.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
Chelsea is about 30 miles southeast of Birmingham.