June 25, 2018
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Wolf hybrid sanctuary infested with fleas, animal control officer says

By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

BRISTOL, Maine — A wolf hybrid sanctuary is coming under scrutiny for keeping the animals in subpar facilities, according to the town’s animal control officer.

The nonprofit Wolf Ledge Refuge is unclean, flea-infested and the wolf dogs do not have proper food or shelter, according to a kennel report released by the town of Bristol. The facility also is not licensed with the state, as required by a new law.

“The ground was infested with fleas. Upon inspection of the gated enclosures, in the first large area the water was green with algae and there was no food or clean water visible. The animal shelters were small, make-shift dog houses,” wrote the town’s animal control officer, Michael Witte.

The report came after an April 17 inspection of the sanctuary.

The facility’s owner, Jim Doughty, denies all of the allegations.

“It’s a bunch of [expletive],” he said Monday. “I don’t have fleas; I’m allergic to them. [The animals] get fed daily, they’re maintained, they get vet checks. They’re not malnourished or anything else. The only thing is, yup, I should have cleaned up a bit better. I’d just gotten home when [Witte] got here and it wasn’t for an inspection, it was to check on a dog. That’s when all this [expletive] happened.”

Witte said he and a game warden went to the wolf hybrids’ home, where Doughty also lives, to investigate a previous wolf dog incident. Witte would not elaborate on what the previous incident was.

“Animals [at the facility were] not watered, animals [were] not fed properly. Animals in these conditions come under more scrutiny than someone’s household dog. It’s more like a kennel — we expect a high standard because the public is involved,” Witte said.

Doughty was issued warnings for keeping his husky, named Lupine, without a dog license. He also was warned about having all five wolf dogs registered with the town, tattooed and neutered as is required by a law passed last year and for not having a state permit, as is required by law.

According to Witte, Doughty has made efforts to amend all those problems.

Because of a new wolf hybrid law passed last year as emergency legislation, the licensing process for wolf dogs has shifted from one state agency to another. This caused some confusion, according to Liam Hughes, the state’s director of animal welfare. So although Doughty had called and tried to get a license, he didn’t receive one.

“There was some confusion, so we will renew that license once we get that application in,” Hughes said.

The town has handed Witte’s report up to the Maine Department of Agriculture for review. There will be no repercussions from the town as a result of the report, Witte said.

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