Good karma appears to have prevailed in a dispute over a wolf-dog hybrid who was deemed vicious and set to be euthanized.
An Orange County judge Wednesday overturned his previous ruling that the dog, Karma, be euthanized and said he can be sent to a wolf sanctuary in North Carolina.
The hearing that led to the ruling came after weeks of debate, including a county supervisors meeting last week at which OC Animal Care Director Jennifer Hawkins stood by her designation of Karma as a vicious dog that should be euthanized. In part, Hawkins declared the dog was vicious because it killed at least one cat in Anaheim.
"Despite the nomenclature of 'menacing' or 'vicious' dogs, the court is actually addressing irresponsible pet ownership," Judge Corey S. Cramin ruled. "Karma is as much a victim as the people and pets who were harmed by Karma."
The controversy began in May when Karma was impounded after the dog's owners were arrested in a domestic violence dispute. After Karma was impounded, OC Animal Care officials determined the husky was part-wolf and could not be properly vaccinated against rabies.
Attorney Christine Garcia, who represents Karma's owners, said she has papers to prove he is a purebred Siberian husky.
On Monday, county supervisors voted 3-2 to support placing the dog in the care of a wolf sanctuary in North Carolina. The judge's ruling Wednesday opens the door for Karma's relocation.
"I'm just happy her life was spared," Josh Ogle, who lost custody of the dog, told City News Service.
Orange County Board Chairman Todd Spitzer, who cast strong support behind the sanctuary move, said the county has a "side agreement" with the judge that Karma cannot be returned to the Ogles. Also, if Full Moon Farm officials deem the dog acceptable for adoption by a new family that the placement must be approved by Orange County officials, he added.
"We've gone from death, to adoption, to possible reunification with a family, which is as good a karma as you can have," Spitzer said.
At last week's board meeting, Spitzer argued that the dog was "neglected and not fed," prompting it to hunt down the cats.
The judge's earlier order that the dog be euthanized prompted a petition signed by thousands of residents who want Karma spared. Garcia entered the hearing Wednesday asking the judge to put a stay on his order and have a new trial in October on whether the dog is vicious.
"We would hope in a best-case scenario Karma returns home to his guardians, but if that's not possible we would like the dog to live out the rest of his life happy in a sanctuary," Garcia said before Wednesday's hearing.
Garcia said "seven generations can be proven" in the dog's lineage. Animal control officials viewed the dog as a wolf-dog hybrid, but Garcia said all Siberian huskies have wolf ancestry that will show up in tests.