They thought they saved a puppy, but it turned out to be a wolf

(CNN) – A family in Massachusetts, USA, was shocked to learn that the rescued lost puppy was actually a puppy. American wolf – Coyote.

The male cub was found “lost and depressed” by the side of the road, according to A Share Facebook Wildlife Center. Concerned for his safety, the family carried the puppy into their car. But after a while they realize he might not be a dog after all.

“Aware of their confusion, they asked us for help,” said the Wildlife Center, which is part of the New England Wildlife Center, a non-profit organization that provides free veterinary care to about 5,000 animals annually.

The Massachusetts family brought home an eastern wolf pup they thought was a stray.

Zach Mertz, executive director of the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, told CNN that it’s not uncommon to see foxes and puppies roaming around this time of year. The cubs reach the age when they begin to explore away from their families. It is unclear if this puppy strayed from his family or if his mother was injured or died.

Mertz said center staff “were quickly able to determine that it was a wolf, and he was definitely at an age when he should have been with her parents.”

Mertz said the puppy, which is believed to be between five and six weeks old, has been cleared of rabies and has received its first round of vaccinations. The Wildlife Center will temporarily care for him along with a three- to four-week-old wolf puppy that was recently transferred from the Rhode Island Wildlife Clinic.

Watch a woman defending herself from a coyote with a stick 1:15

Meertz said that raising a pup alongside a sibling is critical because of the social nature of wolves.

“One of the best things to do for a puppy who has lost his family is to at least provide him with a sibling of the same age,” he said. “That’s because if we do our job right, and walk away from that, that brother will be the model, and they can learn as much as they can from each other.”

He said staff at the center try to contact coyotes as little as possible, so canines don’t associate humans with food and maintain as normal upbringing as possible. They also mimic the wolves’ natural environment by decorating their large enclosures “as naturally as possible” and providing them with food and climbing challenges that “help them practice the kinds of behaviors they might need” in the wild.

The staff plans to present the two cubs within a week, when the female is a little older. If all goes well, the young will spend about six months in the center before being released into the wild in mid-autumn.

Anyone who sees a young wolf or other animal alone in the wild should know that its parents may be nearby, so contact your local wildlife department before stepping in, Mertz said.

“We ask that you keep a safe distance and report what you see,” he said.

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