An Italian woman has been mauled to death by her five pet Czechoslovakian wolfdogs, prompting a debate over the danger posed by the increasingly popular crossbreed canine.

Mariangela Zaffino, a 74-year-old pensioner, was attacked by her five pet dogs in her apartment in the town of Grugliasco near Turin.

She was found by her daughter, who said the dogs, a cross between wild wolves and German shepherd dogs that shares many wolfish characteristics, had never shown any signs of being dangerous in the past.

Neighbours, however, have questioned the wisdom of Mrs Zaffino and her daughter keeping five large dogs in a small flat.

I’ve met wolf/husky crosses before now. Lovely animals but there was always a bit at the back of the brain – perhaps below it – that was thinking careful here, careful, wolves!

And 5 in a small flat?

23 thoughts on “Err, yes”

  1. My trusty old Staffy was with me for 15yrs. Like most dogs, if you teased him enough, his eyes would glaze over and he’d launch himself at you. Wrestling a berserk bull terrier to the ground is one thing; expecting granny to fight off five mutts that think they’re part wolf could be a little trickier.

  2. never shown any signs of being dangerous in the past

    One might argue that five large strong dogs are inherently dangerous. And just as you don’t keep the chainsaw in the toy box, you don’t keep five big dogs in a tiny flat.

  3. Animals are still animals much as you might love them and the right stimulus could set off the wrong response. 5 large dogs–one old woman. Not too clever a plan. With the press you never get the full story. Mebbe she was ill and hadn’t been feeding them enough.

  4. Always the same, the dog wasn’t dangerous until it killed old woman, young infant etc.

    Like the aspiring music producers, footballers who all seem to get stabbed in London.

    People are stupid idiots.

  5. The poor neighbours having to put up with 5 dogs of the wild variety. Did Mrs Zaffino keep them well exercised? Who managed the poop?

  6. I have heard tales in the past of old people being mauled or even eaten by little dogs, as a result of falling too ill to cope. May I posit that the lady’s age and likely infirmity had much to do with it.
    Also, it is perfectly possible to keep large and active dogs in a small flat- if and only if they are taken out for exercise enough, which implies having somewhere within reach where they can run so they don’t get frustrated. Perhaps lack of exercise was the problem. Sounds likely given the lady’s age,the fact that flats are rarely near suitable exercise areas and the hours of exercise those dogs would need.

  7. Further thought.
    I wouldn’t just worry about the wolf part.
    I’d also worry about the GSD. When they’re good they’re very very good but when they’re bad they’re horrid. I doubt the best GSD stock was used for the cross.

  8. People who keep any dogs in flats, semis or terraced properties need them taken away and to be served with ASBOs.

  9. Craig: Three or more dogs and you have a pack.

    Agreed, though I’d perhaps make that two instead of three. Also the owner needs to be accepted as top dog and the greater the number of dogs, the more dominant the owner needs to be.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Dogs need attention, discipline and a lot of exercise. I think the biggest problem with most dogs these days is a lack of exercise. A lack of discipline would be a close second.

    I fail to see how a woman that old could maintain her dominance over these dogs. Nor how she could exercise them often enough.

    Behavioural problems were inevitable.

  11. Uh-huh.. So a variant of the Saarloos wolfhound.

    Lovely dogs, when you’re part of the pack and are dominant enough. When not.. weeelllll…..

  12. Very true, TMB. Always feed yourself before the dogs. Then they know who’s top dog. And respect their pecking order.
    There’s nothing particularly wrong in having 5 big dogs in a small flat. They’re not individually territorial. But they’d need a lot of exercise or they’ll get bored & fractious. Although wolf/shepherd cross, these’ll be very intelligent dogs. The group dynamics alone will keep them occupied. Probably easier to have 5 than 1.
    What went wrong, heaven knows. Maybe a couple had a spat & she was silly enough to intervene. Better to let them sort it out. They wouldn’t kill each other. One will submit & they’ll beck to normal & all forgotten in 5 minutes.

  13. BraveFart

    “People who keep any dogs in flats, semis or terraced properties need them taken away and to be served with ASBOs.”

    That comment would be what I might expect to find in the Express or Mail.

    There is nothing wrong in keeping a dog in any of those, provided it is exercised. The notion that just because a dog is in your garden it is exercising itself is ludicrous.

    I keep my Jack Russell in a London Mews house, but he gets a minimum of three hours a day exercise – not that the squirrels of Kensington Gardens approve.

  14. My cleaning lady had a client who liked large rescue dogs. Also had a cat.

    She was alone in house, ironing, fight started. Cat was ripped apart, blood splattered everywhere. She was terrified.

    She never went back.

  15. Recusant

    You misunderstand me. I don’t give much beyond a small shit for the welfare or fitness of the dog. My concern is for shared property neighbours of the dogowner who may have to endure howling and barking for hours on end by frightened dogs left at home alone. I’ve had this many times

  16. @ BF
    According to the report there had been no complaints about the dogs at all, so I guess the neighbours weren’t being disturbed- as is normal for properly cared for dogs.
    Also, to put things in perspective, according to the article, they weigh in at 40-50 lbs, so about the size of a Dalmatian and a shade smaller than a Lab. Not that you’d want to fight either of those breeds either, especially if there were two or more.

  17. Wolves have become a threat in Rome’s suburbs after there reintroduction to the wild, increasing numbers are now threatening because of easy access to food various areas within the cities boundaries.
    Anyone who believes that a wolf cross is a good pet is seriously deranged, there are wolf crosses that are recognized breeds, the first was in the Netherlands, and there are wolf hybrids with police forces, the Ukraine for one, but as a pet?

  18. We have a few husky/wolf crosses locally and there is definitely something at the back of your head going be very careful here, the eyes in particular they don’t size you up the same way dogs do.
    My son has a husky beautiful dog and friendly, but very different with our dogs when she visits, takes no time establishing or reminding them of her dominance

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