As a wolfdog, Blue's story is common. She was rescued from a home where the owner chained her to a truck bumper, because she didn't have a proper enclosure to contain the animal. The chain became embedded in Blue's neck, requiring surgery.
If not for a sanctuary run by the non- profit Texas Wolfdog Project," blue and the 11 other animals who currently call the shelter home, would most likely not be alive. The shelter's goal is to rehabilitate the animals and place them in an appropriate home, with someone who can handle a dog that can present very significant challenges.
"General" is another favorite furry friend. A beautiful, striking animal, he's about 70% wolf, based on expert estimates. He is two and a half years old.
Wolfdog Project Co-Founder Natasha Woodall describes where he was found: "he was living in Spring in a trailer park behind a 3 foot fence. he had almost no hair because his "demon decks mange" was so bad and it was the middle of February. He had no hair and he was living outside.
General ended up here when his owners surrendered him. Adds Woodall: "they couldn't afford to feed him he was eating cheerios and aluminum foil. I mean, it was horrible."
The plight of the wolfdog is complicated. There is a large demand for these exotic "part dogs-part wolves" that bear the characteristics of both animals. People are willing to shell out a lot of money to buy them, and breeders are all too happy to take that money without considering where that animal will end up. All are captive-born wolf and wolfdog breeds, deliberately bred and sold as pets. It's illegal to own them in most major cities, which adds to the allure.
Woodall says: "People don't really think. They're all about the image factor of "Oh yes, I have a wolf. So many people are in love with the idea of owning a wolf but 1% could handle properly one of these animals.
The biggest problem, say experts, is having unrealistic expectations. "A lot of people think they're just going to be this family pet that lives inside the house," says Woodall.
But when the "wolfier" side comes out, many owners have buyer's remorse. She tells stories of cats that were eaten by their wolfdog companions, even though the animals had been raised together. They have far a stronger prey drive than regular dogs do.
Wolfdogs can become extremely destructive, particularly when bored. They will dig, and, if left indoors, they will tear apart property. Since they are part wolf, they also howl.
"They'll howl at 1 o'clock in the morning, 2 o 'clock in the morning 3 o'clock in the morning," says Woodall.
If they end up in shelters, they are often put down. "The 'wolf word' is pretty much a death sentence," says Woodall.
Because they are part wolf, even if their rabies shots are up to date, by law, wolfdogs are always considered "unvaccinated dogs," and, therefore a rabies threat. There is no approved rabies vaccine in the united states for these animals.
If a wolfdog bites or scratches someone and it's reported to animal control, it is automatically put down.
Texas Wolfdog Project says it can't take in any more wolfdogs. It needs people who are willing and able to adopt a wolfdog, volunteers to care for the animals here, and builders who can construct more enclosures.
If you'd like to help, please go to: http://www.texaswolfdogproject.org/