Alabama wolf hybrid baby killing: Jack London knew “bastard wolves”
CHELSEA, Alabama––Amid stonewalling by the Shelby County Coroner, Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, and family of the victim, strong circumstantial evidence including matching photographs and property descriptions suggests the three-month-old boy killed by a wolf hybrid on November 30, 2023 in Chelsea, Alabama was Leo Caddel, son and second child of Elizabeth and Wyatt Caddel Jr., who were visiting the home.
The wolf hybrid attack came 10 days before Elizabeth and Wyatt Caddel Jr. were to celebrate their second wedding anniversary.
Who are they?
Elizabeth Caddel is one of two daughters of Christy “CC” Louise Dickey, 45, a yoga instructor and mealworm breeder with bright pink-dyed hair, and electrical contractor Jeremy Kenneth Dickey, 46, her husband of 25 years.
Christy and Jeremy Dickey are the listed owners of the property at 1098 County Road 440 in Chelsea, Alabama, where the wolf hybrid attack occurred.
Other dogs in their home in recent years, according to family photos, have included and perhaps still include a pit bull and a husky, neither a safe breed around children.
Dead on arrival
According to a December 1, 2023 media release from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, “On Thursday, November 30, 2023, at approximately 12:54 p.m., Shelby County 911 received an emergency call reporting an animal attack involving an infant at a residence in the area of County Road 440 in Chelsea.
“Shelby County deputies, Chelsea firefighters, and Shelby County Animal Control Officers responded to the scene. The infant was transported to an area hospital by ambulance, with a law enforcement escort.
“Upon arrival at the hospital, the infant was pronounced dead due to injuries suspected to have been caused by the animal. The animal is described as a wolf hybrid and was reportedly kept as a pet by the family of the infant. The animal was euthanized at the scene by an area veterinarian, at the request of law enforcement, and has been transported to the Alabama State Diagnostics Laboratory in Auburn for further examination and investigation. There is no threat to the public.
“The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the circumstances that led to the death of the infant.”
“Wolf hybrid played with the baby”
Later in the day WBRC, of Birmingham, Alabama, about 30 miles away, reported that the victim was a boy.
Added the WBRC report, “The Shelby County Coroner,” Lina Evans, “says that according to the parents, the baby was on the floor and the wolf hybrid picked up the baby and started playing with him. They stated the parents tried to get the baby from the wolf hybrid, but it was too late.
“Wayne Morris, a spokesperson for the City of Chelsea, said other children were in the home and the Alabama Department of Human Resources is also investigating.”
Chelsea mayor Tony Picklesimer told media that, “Alabama is one of four states in the United States that does not have a code against exotic animals.”
Alabama third in U.S. in 2023 dog attack fatalities
Alabama is also one of only three U.S. states to have had as many as four fatal dog attacks in 2023, trailing Texas, with seven, and Michigan, with five.
Joe Cleveland Scott, 73, out for a morning walk, was fatally mauled in McDonald Chapel, Alabama, on February 28, 2023 by a pack of six dogs, including pit bull, boxer, and German shepherd or Malinois mixes.
Jonirus Davis, 31, a sanitation worker in Lowndes County, Alabama, fell off the back of a garbage truck while under attack by a pit bull on November 1, 2023, and was crushed by the truck.
Sharon Kaye Billups Portis, 63, was knocked off her bicycle and fatally mauled by dogs on her way home from work on November 9, 2023, in Birmingham, Alabama. News media videotaped a pack of three pit bulls at the site.
Wolf hybrid attacks are not an anachronism
The Chelsea attack was the first fatality inflicted by a wolf hybrid anywhere in the U.S. since Aurora Little, just eight days old, was killed in her bassinet on March 7, 2018 at her home in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.
Like the death of Aurora Little, the death of Leo Caddel came as a vivid reminder that attacks by wolf hybrids and even full-blooded wolves kept by dog breeders are not an anachronism, albeit now rarely making national headlines, as was the case in the late 20th century.
Wolf hybrid attacks still occur, almost as often as ever––just not a fraction as often as the exponentially increasing numbers of attacks by pit bulls, pit bull variants, and Rottweilers.
The renowned author Jack London [1876-1916] vividly described the issues with wolf hybrids, or “bastard wolves,” as he knew them during his time in Alaska and the Yukon, in his 1902 short story Batard, accessible in PDF form here: https://www.siue.edu/~jvoller/Common/AnimalTales/london_batard.pdf.
London, a bastard himself, born John Griffith Cheney, made vividly clear that he had little liking for either “bastard wolves” or the metaphorical human bastards who kept them:
“Bâtard did not know his father, — hence his name, — but, as John Hamlin knew, his father was a great gray timber wolf. But the mother of Bâtard, as he dimly remembered her, was snarling, bickering, obscene husky, full-fronted and heavy-chested, with a malign eye, a cat-like grip on life, and a genius for trickery and evil. There was neither faith nor trust in her. Her treachery alone could be relied upon, and her wild-wood amours attested her general depravity. Much of evil and much of strength were there in these, Bâtard’s progenitors, and, bone and flesh of their bone and flesh, he had inherited it all. And then came Black Leclère, to lay his heavy hand on the bit of pulsating puppy life, to press and prod and mould till it became a big bristling beast, acute in knavery, overspilling with hate, sinister, malignant, diabolical. With a proper master Bâtard might have made an ordinary, fairly efficient sled-dog. He never got the chance: Leclère but confirmed him in his congenital iniquity.”
Margaret Anne Cleek
ANIMALS 24-7 guest columnist Margaret Anne Cleek, Ph.D. and Malamute enthusiast, in The Wolf in Dog’s Clothing, provided a much gentler, less colorful, but more succinct and scholarly description, without the horrific story line that framed the Jack London version.
“Because there is no standard for wolf hybrids,” Cleek wrote, “and because both the wolf and the dog components vary from animal to animal, with some so-called ‘hybrids’ being actually 100% dogs, it is difficult to discuss the “typical” wolf hybrid.
“In general, though,” Cleek explained, “wolf hybrids represent attempts to step backward 20,000 years or more in the evolution of canine companions to humans.
“Wolf hybrids are genetic and behavioral unknowns,” Cleek emphasized, “whose wild and domestic nature are always at odds. Wolf hybrids have a limited capacity to bond with humans, and are often not able to transfer that bond to a new owner.
“Wolf hybrid behavior is unpredictable,” Cleek warned. “A wolf hybrid may appear to domesticated, yet something may spontaneously trigger throw-back wild behavior.”
Pit bulls take the spotlight
The 109 wolf hybrids who have participated in killing or disfiguring people since 1982, as documented by the ANIMALS 24-7 dog attack log, are now far eclipsed in number by the 8,659 pit bulls and 725 Rottweilers involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks.
Indeed, the 109 wolf hybrids who have wreaked havoc are far outnumbered even by the 364 German shepherds, 199 bull mastiffs, 170 boxers, and 153 huskies who have killed or disfigured humans.
But pit bulls (6.1%), Rottweilers (0.4%), German shepherds (5%), bull mastiffs (0.1%), boxers (0.4%), and huskies (0.4%) each constitute a visible percentage of the U.S. dog population.
Wolf hybrids are less than a ten thousandth of the U.S. dog population
The estimated 11,200 wolf hybrids in the U.S. do not even make up one ten thousandth of the U.S. dog population.
Further, the 109 wolf hybrids who have killed or disfigured people have demonstrated a uniquely predatory attack pattern.
Largely because children are smaller, less dog-savvy, and tend to spend more time around dogs, most dogs breeds bite children approximately twice as often as adults, including in cases in which a person is killed or injured by a dog.
Only pit bulls, boxers, bull mastiffs, and Cane Corsos have killed or disfigured adults more often than children, displaying a distinct lack of inhibition about attacking victims larger than themselves.
What Jack London understood
Wolf hybrids are by contrast at the extreme opposite end of the behavioral scale. Of the 86 people killed of disfigured by wolf hybrids since 1982, 81 were children under seven years of age, as were 18 of the 21 people killed by wolf hybrids (84%).
Jack London understood, as few do, that a bastard wolf may live in uneasy maladjustment with humans, but remains a wild predator:
“Bâtard was nervous and unstrung, starting at common sounds, tripping over his own shadow, but, withal, vicious and masterful with his team-mates. Nor did he show signs of a breaking spirit. Rather did he grow more grim and taciturn, biding his time with an inscrutable patience.”