Wolf Hybrids Seized After W-B Dog Park Attack
DALLAS — The Pennsylvania Game Commission seized two wolf hybrids in mid-October after the animals attacked a 2-year-old child at the Hollenback Dog Park in Wilkes-Barre in May, the commission announced Friday.
David Cannon Jr., 54, of Plains Twp., faces two counts of unlawful acts related to exotic wildlife possession without permits and one count of failure to safeguard the public from attack by exotic wildlife.
State Game Warden Phil White filed the charges Wednesday at the office of Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo Jr., Plains Twp. They carry a maximum total penalty of $1,500.
Cannon already pleaded guilty to a charge of permitting an animal to injure a human being that Wilkes-Barre Animal Control Officer Adam Oliver filed against Cannon in June in connection with the attack. That charge carried a $100 fine plus $97.39 in court costs.
According to Katelyn Davis, the mother of the Hayden Davis, two husky-type dogs approached the dog park fence where Hayden was standing, and one of them bit him through the fence, she said. The dog latched on and refused to release the boy until passers-by approached, she said.
The boy’s mother filed a civil complaint in September alleging Cannon was harboring a “dangerous dog” that aggressively attacked Hayden, breaking his arm and causing cuts and puncture wounds that required reconstructive surgery.
Davis is seeking unspecified damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering and psychological damage the attack caused her son. The suit is also seeking punitive damages, alleging Cannon knew his dogs were vicious.
The two wolf hybrids — a male and a female — were seized when authorities executed a search warrant Oct. 18 at Cannon’s residence. Wolf hybrids are considered exotic wildlife under the Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code.
After game commission wardens were informed of the attack, they collected blood samples from the animals, which were submitted to the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory in East Stroudsburg for DNA testing. Results concluded both canines are wolf hybrids, according to a news release from the commission.
Wolves and wolf hybrids may be possessed only by people who first obtain an exotic wildlife possession permit and follow strict guidelines related to animal care and public safety. Cannon is alleged to have never applied for an exotic wildlife possession permit, the release states.
Both animals have been transported to T&D Cats of the World wildlife refuge center in Snyder County. The facility is licensed by the game commission and the federal government to house and exhibit wildlife.
Plains Twp. police, the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office and Wilkes-Barre Animal Control assisted game commission wardens in the investigation.
Cannon also was cited in 2012 with permitting an animal to injure a human after three of his mixed-breed huskies fatally mauled a chihuahua at Hollenback Park and bit the dog’s owner when she tried to stop the attack.
In that case, Cannon was found not guilty at a summary trial — although he did apologize for the attack and offered to buy the woman a new dog.
The city closed the dog park last month after learning the Wyoming Valley Dog Owners Group let liability insurance lapse. Cannon, who was a longtime volunteer with the organization, said the organization could no longer afford the insurance because people stopped donating.
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