Most people wouldn’t hesitate to help an adorable puppy in harm’s way. Especially if you’re an animal lover and you spot a pup running loose in a dangerous area, you would probably stop to help it.
One Massachusetts family did that when they saw an adorable, roly-poly pup wandering along a busy roadside, scared and in need of assistance.
But the family soon realized something was wrong. Whether it was un-puppy-like behavior or the little one’s borderline unusual looks, they realized they’d made a mistake: The creature they’d saved was no domesticated dog, it was a coyote pup.
Once they determined they had a wild animal on their hands, they contacted the Cape Wildlife Center for help.
The major concern at that point was whether or not the well-meaning family had been introduced to rabies after rescuing the pup, as coyotes are known to carry the deadly virus.
After working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the wildlife center was able to determine that the family was not at risk of contracting rabies — something the family was no doubt relieved about. In the comments on their post, they explained that an epidemiologist with the state department spoke with the good Samaritans and made the call.
“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,” Cape Wildlife Center posted on May 2.
“He is now recovering comfortably in one of our isolation wards, but will not be on his own for long! A foster sibling has just arrived from @riwildliferehab and they will soon be introduced.
“Once both pups receive their vaccinations they will be raised together and will be given a chance grow and learn natural behaviors in our large outdoor caging. 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 this case turned out well for both the family and the coyote involved, the wildlife center took the opportunity to remind their readers just how risky this rescue was.
“Coyotes are considered a Rabies vector species in MA and are susceptible to contracting the virus that is deadly to all mammals including people,” the post continued.
“If the finders had been bitten, scratched, or had extended contact we would have been mandated to euthanize the pup and test for rabies. We are grateful to every single person who takes time out of their day to help wildlife when they are need, but we always encourage people to call the appropriate resources prior to intervening, it can help Keep all involved safe!”
Many commented to say they could see how the family made the mix-up, as the pup was still young enough that it closely resembled a domesticated puppy.
In the comments, the center explained that if all goes well, the two pups will be vaccinated and released into the wild once they are old enough to thrive on their own.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.