Residents from Laidlaw to Chilliwack took to social media with photos and excited exclamations of wolf sightings in their neighbourhoods earlier this month.
However, not everything is always as it first seems to be: “They’re not wolves, they’re hybrids,” explained conservation officer, Don Stahl, after locating a few of the animals. And while the animals are “99 per cent genetically identical” to wolves, the one per cent difference declassifies them as wildlife, thus removing any possible involvement from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS).
Out of options to help these animals, Stahl and an RCMP officer who also attended to calls about the animals reached out to Gerry Therrien of Action Animals, an animal supply company, for assistance.
Having trained and supplied animals for TV and major motion pictures for more than four decades, Therrien is very familiar with these types of creatures, even “currently (owning) 13 hybrids—all black, white, and grey because they look like wolves.”
A highly-renowned business, Action Animals has provided a variety of trained animals for on-set performances, but now they focus mostly on less exotic animals like hybrids.
When he got the call about roaming hybrids in need of help, Therrien says even though he had to be on set in Surrey at 9 p.m., he didn’t think twice about hauling his truck and trailer to where the animals had been spotted.
It was about 2:30 p.m., on Aug. 15, when he received the call, explained Therrien.
Continuing, Therrien explains that when he received the call in the late morning of August 15, when he was already on the road to Surrey with his hybrids. But, he says, “If I can make a difference in the quality of life (for an animal), I’ll make a difference.”
So he turned around and went back home to Abbotsford, and unloaded his animals before driving to an archery range east of Chilliwack. There, Therrien says they met up with an RCMP officer and began patrolling the area.
“It popped its head out of a bush,” recalled Therrien. Turns out it was trapped in a blueberry bramble and animal trainer “went in and carried her out. She was hurt, but nothing broken. Just sore limbs and bones.
“We don’t know how long they were out there (before) they were noticed, (but) she was super, super thin, and very malnourished.”
The next female was found nearby in a very crappy situation.
“We found the second female in a poop well,” said Therrien. “It was disgusting. One of my guys jumped down into a 10-foot-deep poop pit like it was nothing, (though),” and ended up so immersed in the stinky, chunky pool of cow manure he had it in his eyebrows.
“But the farmers were very nice and hosed him down with the water,” added the animal trainer with a laugh.
Currently, Therrien has been able to capture four hybrids—two females and two males—but has been told there may be two more that need rehabilitation.
“All of these (animals are) man-made. These (hybrids) were made and raised by people. I (suspect) people thought the proper thing to do was turn them loose when they (became too much to handle). I try to not judge people because I wasn’t there, but it’s probably not something I would do.”
Housed in newly-built pens 25-feet from his own hybrid pack, the orphaned hybrids are covered in “nicks and minor injuries, (and are) very malnourished, extremely thin, and extremely weak.
“I’ve got them out (here) feeding and watering them and helping them regain their strength (and) trying to get them healthy,” Therrien says. But “they howl a lot because they’re beside new (hybrids). They’re young and alone, (and) they’re a handful.”
Born of two worlds, one wild, the other tamed, Therrien explains hybrids “are a funny character because they’re both (wolf and dog), and sometimes don’t know until they’re grown up” what animal side they’ll choose.
Suspected one-year-olds, these hybrids are a bit more wolf-ish than dog-ish, says fellow Action Animal trainer, Brendan Sidhu, who’s been working with wolves and hybrids for about eight years. On a scale of one to 10, with the lowest being your average lap dog, these hybrids would score “about a six, I’d say.”
With that in mind, Therrien says his hope for these animals would be a life lived free-range somewhere “like a buffalo or elk farm where they take in animals rejected by the world like these. They’re not wolves, they’re not dogs, so we need to find a place where they can live both their sides out: where they can be a dog and a wolf.
“Everything I do is about how much better I can make life for the animals, so a place like that would allow for a great life—it’s about the quality of their lives.”
If that’s not possible, “I’ll just keep them for the rest of their lives,” adds Therrien matter-of-factly.
Needless to say, “it’s been quite a rodeo,” says the veteran animal trainer, with thoughts of the remaining two hybrids.
With an increased knowledge of their presence in the area, it’s hoped they may be spotted. If a suspected dog-wolf hybrid is seen, Therrien says the best thing to do is call the COS or RCMP, who will coordinate him and his staff.
“I’ll go day or night,” Therrien said. “We’ll run out there and we’ll gather them up and bring them back (to our place). There’s (nothing to) fear and no danger to the public—we’ll be there as soon as (we’re called).”
The Conservation Officer Service can be contacted by calling their 24-hour Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline: 1-877-952-RAPP (7277); and the RCMP can be contacted through their local non-emergency line.
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