Shy WOLF – Fort Myers Florida Weekly

Letitia Denham
Shy WOLF – Fort Myers Florida Weekly

Mia, the wolfdog, prepared for her closeup. She is 62% grey wolf and got here to Shy Wolf in 2008.

THE SOUND OF HOWLING may be heard emanating from behind the gates of the Shy Wolf Sanctuary Schooling & Expertise Middle as you method.

This makes good sense, because the residents are primarily wolves and wolfdogs. However on this case, the howling was an intermingled refrain of wolf and human voices. Visiting adults and kids had been spontaneously becoming a member of in to imitate the instinctual habits of the animals they got here to see and assist.

Shy Wolf, in japanese Collier County, is a sanctuary for injured, deserted or uncared for wolves and wolfdogs in addition to a various menagerie of different captive-bred unique animals.

The title is apt. Wolves actually are shy and elusive by nature. Catching a glimpse and photographing them within the wild is uncommon. However on the sanctuary, you are able to do that and extra. Some are conscious of the human contact. You possibly can truly pet one and really feel its thick, coarse fur. It’s possible you’ll be fortunate sufficient to have one rub up towards you, nuzzle you, lick your arm or face

Nancy Smith gives some love to Apollo, a wolfdog who is deaf.

Nancy Smith offers some like to Apollo, a wolfdog who’s deaf.

The principle inhabitants at present is 4 full-blooded wolves and 23 wolfdogs. One other eight wolfdogs are being fostered. Different rescues embrace prairie canine, New Guinea singing canine, a cougar, Florida gopher tortoises, a North American bobcat, and several other foxes from Brazil, the Arctic Circle and North Africa.

“These are bred in captivity, bought in captivity, dumped in captivity. They haven’t any place to go,” stated Nancy Smith, Shy Wolf founder. “We offer a really, essential area of interest or house for these animals. Humane societies don’t take them. Home animal societies don’t take them.” Zoos don’t need them as a result of they should know and doc every part concerning the animal’s background, she stated. “There’s no place like us. There actually isn’t.”

The sanctuary’s mission can also be to heal hearts and minds by rescue, sanctuary and training. “All who come by Shy Wolf Sanctuary’s gates, two-or-four-legged, will discover a secure haven to heal from the bodily and emotional wounds of life,” its web site states.

Bogie the wolfdog was rescued with an injured leg from Miami in 2017.

Bogie the wolfdog was rescued with an injured leg from Miami in 2017.

The animals come from zoos that could be closing or downsizing, different sanctuaries which might be closing or the place the animals had been uncared for, breeders, or most frequently, surrendered by house owners.

Shy Wolf is a not open for walk-ins from the general public. Particulars on academic choices and animal encounters are outlined on the sanctuary web site. Applications are supplied by appointment solely.

The in-unison howling episode occurred the day of a particular occasion solely held every year: an open home for close by neighbors and buddies within the Golden Gate Estates neighborhood the place the sanctuary is tucked away on 2.5 acres.

Jaclyn Lightell, who lives six doorways down, introduced her son, Jackson, 12, daughter Jaelyn, 10 and three different youngsters.

“We adore it,” she stated of residing down the road from the sanctuary. “We love listening to the wolves each morning and each evening. We love that they had been rescued, for positive.”

Hollie the wolfdog was rescued from a Kentucky shelter in 2019. CHRISTINA CRUMP / COURTESY PHOTOS

Hollie the wolfdog was rescued from a Kentucky shelter in 2019. CHRISTINA CRUMP / COURTESY PHOTOS

The event additionally celebrated the disclosing of a newly refurbished habitat for 2 of the wolves. The work was funded by a $10,000 grant from the Kellogg Household Basis.

Dr. Thomas Kellogg was on the occasion. He’s a dentist, basis board member and nice grandson of John Harvey Kellogg, the doctor and entrepreneur who invented Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, the beginning of a now-iconic model.

Dr. Kellogg came upon about Shy Wolf by merely Googling the world for issues to do. He and his spouse, Jan, dwell in Michigan however have a winter residence in Naples.

“I love to do adventures — do uncommon issues,” he stated. “I ran throughout this Shy Wolf factor, and stated let’s go test this out.” He was curious concerning the purpose for the sanctuary. “Why save wolves?” he requested himself on the time. “What’s the massive deal? They’re simply nuisances.”

A go to to Shy Wolf enlightened him. He came around for the primary time about 1½ years in the past and bought an training about and appreciation for the sanctuary and its residents. “We had been actually impressed.”



“These animals — they’re harmless,” Dr. Kellogg stated. “Folks undertake them, attempt to personal them. They imply nicely however they’re not ready, similar to many individuals aren’t ready to be dad and mom,” he stated.

His household basis works with many nonprofits, together with one which helps folks with parenting abilities, he stated.

“It’s simply wonderful. They give the impression of being so ferocious. They’re not,” Dr. Kellogg stated of the wolves and wolfdogs. They’re curious, studying from us as we be taught from them, he stated.

The animals educate us to be compassionate and share the earth, he stated. “They’re actually good classes. Life classes.”

He and his spouse additionally loved watching the kids with the animals.

Miah Krohnfeldt, 9, sported a pink bow in her hair and stated it was her first go to to Shy Wolf. “I get to enter one of many enclosures and pet a wolf canine. Should you howl, then the canine will howl.” Throughout her go to, she realized the bodily variations between a wolf and a canine, Miah stated.



Her brother, Carter, 11, was extra into the logistics. “I like all of the animals,” he stated. “It’s nicely organized right here. They’ve their very own areas and privateness for themselves.” Subsequent yr he needs to return again and volunteer.

One of many sanctuary workers members introduced out Apollo, a wolfdog who acts as one in every of Shy Wolf’s ambassadors after they go to colleges or group organizations. Instantly many fingers reached out to the touch, pet or {photograph} the animal. Apollo took the eye in stride, even sat and laid down at occasions. The animal is deaf. He was rescued from the east coast of Florida in January 2021 and had extreme ear infections that turned proof against medication, leading to having each ear canals eliminated.

Within the background, one wolf began howling. Then one other and one other. A few of the guests joined in.

The two.5-acre sanctuary additionally occurs to be the yard of Ms. Smith and her husband, Kent, who began rescuing animals in 1993. She had been volunteering at one other animal rescue on the time. “I didn’t intend it. It simply occurred,” Ms. Smith stated. The primary rescue was Moondance, a black Asian leopard that had one leg bitten off in an accident at one other animal facility. Then Ms. Smith heard of a zoo simply south of the Florida/Georgia border that had 20 wolf pups needing placement. When she arrived, all however six had died.



For the primary eight years, the Smiths paid for feeding and care of the animals themselves, with the assistance of some donations. In 2001, Shy Wolf turned a 501(c)3 charity with an impartial board of administrators, government director and devoted cadre of volunteers

Ms. Smith has a number of licenses from the state Fish and Wildlife Division, a United States Division of Agriculture Division license, in addition to a Collier County Kennel Allow for the sanctuary. The sanctuary doesn’t obtain authorities funding.

Nancy and Kent Smith, shy wolf founders. MARY WOZNIAK / FLORIDA WEEKLY

Nancy and Kent Smith, shy wolf founders. MARY WOZNIAK / FLORIDA WEEKLY

At anybody time, there could also be 50 to 70 animals in residence. The numbers are fluid, stated Deanna Deppen, government director.

Their tales are compelling.

¦ Tewa got here to the sanctuary earlier this yr. The total-blooded wolf was an aggravated abuse case on Florida’s east coast. He was residing in an residence with different giant canine. Shy Wolf was contacted about him in July 2021, a however authorized motion and pending fees towards the house owners had been already in movement and the sanctuary needed to wait till they had been resolved.

¦ Cimarron the cougar was rescued in 2010 from one other facility shut down by the USDA, the place their technique of management was to hit him over the pinnacle with a lead pipe.

¦ Girly the coyote was discovered as a pup, floating in a river together with her umbilical twine nonetheless hooked up. She went first to a wildlife rehab after which to Shy Wolf.

¦ Wolfdogs Chenoa and Kye had been emergency rescues in September 2021 from their uninhabitable enclosure on a flooded property in Northwest Florida.

Takoda, 80% gray wolf, came to Shy Wolf from Belle Glade after his owner died. BRITTANY ALLEN / COURTESY PHOTO

Takoda, 80% grey wolf, got here to Shy Wolf from Belle Glade after his proprietor died. BRITTANY ALLEN / COURTESY PHOTO

Shy Wolf offers on-site and off-site academic applications starting from the right way to peacefully co-exist with wildlife to the rescue wants for surrendered and abused, captive bred unique animals. They may work with lecturers to supply studying curriculum for his or her lecture rooms.

Their Therapeutic Hearts program companions with space nonprofit organizations to supply a therapeutic connection between folks they serve and the rescue animals.

They embrace Youth Haven, the Shelter for Abused Girls and Youngsters, Youngsters’s Community of Southwest Florida, Valerie’s Home and several other veterans’ assist teams.

Through the years, Shy Wolf has rescued greater than 1,200 animals and had guests from 40 states and 12 nations. Operational prices are almost $718,000 per yr.

Now the sanctuary has reached capability and plans to broaden to a 17-acre campus close by. They’ve closed on a property on the nook of Golden Gate Boulevard West and and third Road NW. The acquisition value was $1.7 million and their mortgage is for $1.3 million, Ms. Deppen stated. The sanctuary had been saving for years for such an enlargement and paid $400,000 at closing, she stated. There are 5 homes on the property which might be at present being rented, which can cowl the interest-only mortgage whereas the sanctuary launches its capital marketing campaign.

Shy wolf pathway: A sandy path with native vegetation winds along the sanctuary interior. MARY WOZNIAK / FLORIDA WEEKLY

Shy wolf pathway: A sandy path with native vegetation winds alongside the sanctuary inside. MARY WOZNIAK / FLORIDA WEEKLY

The brand new campus will permit the sanctuary to broaden outreach, the Therapeutic Hearts program, present hands-on science area journeys for college kids and new internship alternatives.

A few of the current buildings will likely be transformed to sanctuary use, together with:

¦ A brand new veterinary middle that can even function a useful resource to the group by partnerships.

¦ Intern housing for graduate college students who’re pursuing careers in zoology, biology, and different areas.

¦ Housing for an onsite property supervisor.

¦ An administrative constructing to assist sanctuary operations.

Shy Wolf pathway 1.

Shy Wolf pathway 1.

They plan to construct a brand new animal meals preparation middle with a loading dock, walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers, and industrial-grade kitchen tools. The enlargement plan will likely be phased in as sources grow to be obtainable, she stated. They’re hoping to occupy the brand new house inside three to 5 years.

Maybe most important, in gentle of Hurricane Ian’s latest rampage by Florida on Sept. 28, is that every one buildings will likely be constructed to withstand Class 5 hurricanes, Ms. Deppen stated.

Among the many new animal care buildings, one can even be devoted as a shelter for animals in the neighborhood, together with pets of first responders when they’re referred to as out in a hurricane or different occasion, in addition to pets of different residents. Most shelters that permit pets solely permit canine or cats, Ms. Deppen stated. If in case you have a ferret, fowl, bunny or different extra nontraditional pet, there are few to no choices. Hurricane Ian bolstered the compelling want, she stated. The sanctuary has launched a GoFundMe web page; the purpose is to lift $50,000 by Nov. 30, the tip of hurricane season.

Tewa, a full-blooded wolf, with volunteer Judy Rakocinski. COURTESY PHOTOS

Tewa, a full-blooded wolf, with volunteer Judy Rakocinski. COURTESY PHOTOS

They wish to create a mannequin for catastrophe preparedness by partnerships and collaboration that different communities will wish to emulate, Ms. Deppen stated. “We’re hoping to be an instance and useful resource of the way it must be carried out.” ¦

Within the KNOW

Shy Wolf Sanctuary Schooling & Expertise Middle

The place: Naples

For info:

Telephone: 855-749-9653

E-mail: [email protected]

For academic or talking occasions:

[email protected]

GoFundMe web page for brand spanking new group hurricane animal shelter on expanded campus:


Animals rescued: greater than 1,200

Guests: From 40 states and 12 nations.

Operational prices: Almost $718,000 per yr.



Meals: 24,000 kilos per yr, principally uncooked meat, some hen and fish.

Volunteers: About 80.

Annual volunteer hours: 22,000.

Price to feed a wolf per thirty days: $49.

Annual price to feed a wolf: $588.

Vet care price for a wolf yearly: $1,032.

A helping animals sign on sanctuary fence reminds staff and volunteers of their mission. COURTESY PHOTO

A serving to animals signal on sanctuary fence reminds workers and volunteers of their mission. COURTESY PHOTO

Whisper the wolfdog, 62% gray wolf, was found in someone’s backyard. CAITIE GREISER / COURTESY PHOTO

Whisper the wolfdog, 62% grey wolf, was present in somebody’s yard. CAITIE GREISER / COURTESY PHOTO

Matt Person, with a rare New Guinea singing dog, has volunteered for Shy Wolf and helped transport rescues cross-county to new homes. COURTESY PHOTO

Matt Particular person, with a uncommon New Guinea singing canine, has volunteered for Shy Wolf and helped transport rescues cross-county to new properties. COURTESY PHOTO

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