This week I am proud to present Kristyn Scott—and her good friend & fellow volunteer—Mary Russell. Kristyn & Mary are two of the angel volunteers behind the Howling Woods Farm, a breed-specific animal shelter in New Jersey that rescues and places domestic bred wolves, wolfdog hybrids and northern breeds.
Kristyn has been volunteering for at Howling Woods Farm (HWF) for 9 months and Mary has been a volunteer and close friend to HWF for over 2 years. A big THANK YOU to both ladies for sharing their knowledge with me today!!
Tell us a little bit about Howling Woods Farm (HWF). What is it? Why was it started?
Mike Hodanish, owner of HWF, had wolf dogs as companion pets while living in AZ. When he moved to NJ he did dog rescues. Missing wolf dogs specifically, he purchased Sierra, our resident Alpha female. While looking for a companion for Sierra, his research and contacts made him realize that there was a need here in New Jersey for domestic bred wolf and wolf dog rescue. Mike started the rescue in 2002 and incorporated it in 2005. Howling Woods Farm is registered with and inspected by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency responsible for protecting animal health and welfare.
We currently have 14 rescued wolf dogs and domestic bred wolves on Mike’s 12+ acre farm, some being part of Mike’s permanent pack, while others are in need of adoption. In his mission so far, Mike has rescued over 70 wolf dogs!
How and why did you decide to get involved and volunteer with Howling Woods?
Kristyn: I first met Mike and the Howling Woods pack in June ’11 at the Garden State Festival of Balloons. They had an information table and picture booth for visitors to take pictures with the “stars” of Sorcerer’s Apprentice—four of his pack appeared in the movie with Nicholas Cage. I instantly fell in love with the animals’ disposition. They were sweet, calm, and welcoming… I just didn’t want to leave. I must have stayed at their booth for over an hour, and revisited several times before the day was done. While speaking to Mike and learning about the farm’s rescue mission, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I did more research and applied to be a volunteer that night and have been with HWF ever since.
Mary: I met the wolfers at a Pow Wow and fell in love. I didn’t really care about their stories at the time, I was in heaven! I eventually looked them up on the internet and discovered I could meet them at Howling Woods Farm. Learning about the rescue and the plight of these amazing animals, I asked how I could help. Soon I realized Mike’s integrity. Every penny of donations goes to the rescue; much of his own income does as well. Mike’s pre-placement screening procedures for adoption and his policy of taking an adoptee back if an adoption doesn’t work impressed me. One of the most defining elements of Mike’s rescue that sealed my involvement is his ability to assess his current rescues, their personalities, etc…and do what he can to make sure the rescue is a good fit to ensure the best chance for an adoption. He also has to make the most difficult decision to say no when he can’t safely take on another animal to assure that accepting a new rescue is in the best interest of the animal.
As a volunteer at Howling Woods, what kinds of things do you do?
We are involved in all types of maintenance and clean up at the rescue—currently a few volunteers are helping with the building of a new store as well as new enclosures for the adoptables. We also help with cleaning and maintaining the transport vehicles, organizing and selling merchandise, assisting in feeding the animals, assisting with leash training, etc. We take the wolfers for walks around the property, guide tours on weekends for visitors, as well as provide education at events, school forums and other public venues.
With many of our adoptables, a big responsibility is to simply provide nurturing care and help in socializing. Some of these animals come to us afraid of human contact, or have been harmed and have lost their trust in people. Some may have not been around other animals. Our main goal is to make sure the animals are cared for and loved. Sometimes we just sit in their pens with treats, calm voices, and a brush to make sure they know we’re there for the right reasons.
Oh, and did we forget to mention…poop duty?!
Why is it such a problem when people purchase wolves and wolf hybrids as pets?
The problem begins with the unregulated wolf dog breeders. There are good conscious breeders however some breed the animals only for profit and don’t care who they sell to or what their living situation is. If you live in an efficiency apartment a wolf dog does not make for a great pet, but if you have the money, these breeders will sell. Many people get the wolf dog for a status symbol, they don’t realize the care needed such as, room, a companion animal, special dietary needs, containment. Buyer’s are also not prepared for the shyness and aloofness most wolf dogs display.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering purchasing a wolf or wolf hybrid?
People interested in purchasing or adopting should first be cautious of where they are getting the animal from. They also need to know that wolves are ILLEGAL to own in any state! Wolf dogs (or hybrids) are legal in certain states and you need to make sure yours is one of them. Research state and local regulations before getting a wolf dog. Wolf dogs are high energy animals, they need lots of exercise. At least 6 foot high fencing and dig guards are suggested. Realize most wolf dogs prefer to be outdoors. They need a companion animal! Ask lots of questions, research and know where you are getting your animal from. Use social networks and forums for information for more information on owning a wolf dog before rescuing.
Anyone looking to adopt must also consider their diet and food plans as most are on what we call the BARF diet (bones and raw food).
Know that, the higher content the wolf dog, the less protection they will offer. Wolves, in nature, fear humans and just as they wouldn’t come near you in the wild, the chance of a wolf dog guarding the house is slim. They’ll be the first to run and hide.
Last question, how can WE—the Evolution You family—help the Howling Woods Farm?
First and foremost…Help spread the word that wolf dogs are NOT dangerous animals.
Come and visit the farm or any of the mentioned events we have listed on our website. Visiting the farm is by donation and appointment only. To schedule a visit with us or make a donation to the cause, please contact us at howlingwoods.org.
Once again a big thank you to Mary & Kristyn for sharing. Howling Woods Farm is an incredible organization and I am so honored to feature this important cause here.
In love & light,