A Massachusetts family got quite the surprise last week when they brought home what they believed was a lost puppy they found wandering by the side of a busy road.
The lost “puppy” was actually a distressed baby coyote that had been separated from its family, according to the New England Wildlife Center.
“After realizing their mix up they called us for assistance,” the nonprofit said on Tuesday. “With the help of the Mass Department of Public Health we were able to determine there was no potential exposure risk to rabies, and were able to clear him for care and granted permission to rehab by Mass Wildlife.”
The lost coyote is now “recovering comfortably” in an isolation ward at the Weymouth wildlife center, and the nonprofit said he will soon have a foster sibling to keep him company.
“Once both pups receive their vaccinations they will be raised together and will be given a chance to grow and learn natural behaviors in our large outdoor caging,” the center said. “We work hard to give them as much of a natural upbringing as possible, and will work to replicate the essential behaviors and skills they learn from mom and dad.”
While the situation of mistaken identity had a happy ending this time, the wildlife center warned that it could have “easily gone differently.”
Coyotes are considered a rabies vector species in Massachusetts, according to the nonprofit, making them susceptible to contracting the illness that is deadly to mammals, including people.
“If the finders had been bitten, scratched, or had extended contact we would have been mandated to euthanize the pup and test for rabies,” the center said. “We are grateful to every single person who takes time out of their day to help wildlife when they are [in] need, but we always encourage people to call the appropriate resources prior to intervening, it can help keep all involved safe!”
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