Police in Wisconsin seized a 107-pound wolf-dog hybrid after the animal allegedly bit a child unprovoked, and since then, social media users have been coming to the dog's defense and criticizing police for photos of an officer with the dog.
The Green Bay Police Department posted a link to photos of the white wolf hybrid on its Facebook page Monday. Two of the four photos show Officer Mallory Meves posing and smiling with the dog.
Police took the animal from a home on the west side of Green Bay after receiving a report of a dog bite on May 17. The dog reportedly bit a juvenile, though the victim's condition is unclear.
A wolf hybrid, a cross between a wolf and domesticated dog, is illegal to have within city limits, and owners are supposed to have a permit through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, police said in a news release.
Police said they received confirmation from the staff at a nearby wildlife sanctuary that the dog was a wolf hybrid, though the dog is also undergoing a DNA test to verify its lineage, police added later.
Police cited the dog's owner, identified as Brian Schoen, with multiple municipal violations for the animal bite, not having the animal licensed, keeping more than two dogs and keeping an exotic animal. The man allegedly has a history of possessing exotic or dangerous animals within the city, police said.
Since the bite was reported, several Facebook commenters are standing up for the dog, blaming the owner for the animal bite, and are concerned about whether the dog will be put down.
In response to comments and questions on social media, the Police Department said the dog is under a 10-day rabies quarantine as required by state law, and is being monitored for signs and symptoms of rabies.
"The dog was confirmed by the owner to be a wolf hybrid, as well as staff at the Wildlife Sanctuary. The Green Bay Police Department or its officers do NOT make determinations on whether the animal is euthanized or not," the agency wrote Tuesday. "Officer Meves also consulted with the WI DNR, veterinary staff at the Wisconsin Humane Society - Green Bay, which is consulting with the Wisconsin State Veterinarians."
Others are taking issue with photos showing the officer smiling with a snare pole next to the newly seized animal, adding that the officer appeared to be "smirking" or "gloating." Some countered the smile was a natural reaction to being photographed.
The officer defended herself in an interview with WLUK. Meves, who is listed as an animal control officer, is responsible "for monitoring the welfare of domestic and wild animals," according to the police department's website.
"First to point off, I always smile on camera and I smile in photographs because I love my job and I love what I do," Meves said to WLUK. "If I can get this dog off the street and off of someone's hands that's maybe irresponsible with it, that's a win for me."
Police also added on its post that those with concerns about an officer's conduct should contact the shift commander.
As for the wolf hybrid, the quarantine and DNA tests are ongoing.
If tests verify that the dog is a wolf hybrid, police told commenters they'll work to find placement for the animal with the state's Department of Natural Resources. Otherwise, police told WLUK that if it's found to be just a dog, the animal can be returned to its owner.