Rescue Me - Special Feature
The Plight of the Hybrid
by Carie Broecker
Photos Courtesy of Monica Rua
Many domestic dog lovers also have an affinity for our pampered pooch’s canine cousin, the wolf. Sadly, some people choose to keep wolves and wolf hybrids (wolves crossed with domestic dogs) as pets. The intent behind breeding hybrids is to create a pet that looks like a wild animal but has the temperament of a domestic pet. Unfortunately, just like many exotic pets, many people find that their cuddly wolf mix puppy has now matured into a creature more akin to a wild wolf. That’s where Kristi and Mark Krutsinger come in. They are the founders of WHAR-Wolf Rescue in Paso Robles, CA.
Kristi and Mark have dedicated the last ten years of their lives to rescuing and caring for full blood wolves and wolf hybrids that were surrendered to animal shelters or were given up directly to WHAR-Wolf Rescue by families that could not handle them anymore. WHAR-Wolf has taken in hundreds of hybrids from shelters throughout the western United States.
Mark and Kristi are also adamant about educating the public about the daunting responsibility of sharing their life and home with a hybrid and to doing what they can, through education, to discourage the breeding of hybrids. I did a google search this morning for “wolf hybrids for sale” and came up with over 20,000 results! These beautiful animals are being exploited by unscrupulous breeding practices. Sadly, many of the adorable pups being sold today will end up being euthanized once they reach maturity due to containment issues, behavior issues, or laws prohibiting owning a hybrid. At about six months of age, many hybrids become confrontational, antisocial, and may begin displaying aggressive behavior. The typical family home or apartment is not adequate for these strong, athletic, high endurance, driven, intelligent animals.
Cherokee, an 8-year-old shepherd/timber wolf cross, has lived at WHAR-Wolf Sanctuary for five years. He was being used for breeding until his person lost her property in southern California. WHAR-Wolf Rescue was contacted and they took him. Cherokee was very timid and unsocialized. He was housed with another wolf that he had been living with in southern California. They shared living space peacefully until territory issues came up. They got into an intense battle, and Cherokee’s knee was badly injured. He had to have surgery to repair the damage. For six months, WHAR-Wolf volunteers cared for Cherokee; changing bandages, medicating him and helping him get around. Because of all the handling, he has become one of their best-socialized hybrids. He is now an ambassador for the rescue group and often travels with them to education events and fundraisers. Cherokee and 15 other sterilized hybrids are available for adoption if the right situation comes up for them.
Adopting out hybrids is a controversial issue. Many advocates are against hybrids as family pets under any circumstances. They think hybrids are too dangerous and unpredictable. Some states and counties have a ban on hybrids while others allow people to have hybrids as long as they are registered and have their rabies vaccine. Kristi and Mark have chosen to rescue hybrids that would otherwise be euthanized and have very strict adoption guidelines. They also provide ongoing education and support to their adopters with the goal of creating responsible guardians for the hybrids they adopt out.
WHAR-Wolf Rescue is a volunteer run, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing rescue, sanctuary, and refuge for captive born wolves and wolf mix hybrids that have been bred and sold to the public as companion pets. They discourage continued captive breeding of wolves and hybrid wolves as pets.
WHAR Wolf Rescue was recently forced out of their location by Caltrans due to eminent domain. They received a generous land donation by Conservation Ambassadors also known as Zoo to You in Paso Robles, but they now have the intense and expensive task of relocating 20 wolves and hybrids and building them a new facility. For more information about WHAR Wolf Rescue and their relocation efforts, visit www.wharwolves.org or call 805/239-WHAR.