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County shelter takes in a dog, finds out it's a wolf hybrid

The dog turns out to be almost half-wolf, which makes taking care of her much trickier.

PINE GROVE, Pa. — Towa, a two-and-a-half-year-old wolf hybrid, is being taken care of at Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA near Pine Grove. But the shelter manager Shannon Shuttlesworth didn't know Towa's breed when her owner gave her up in May.

"We don't normally come across a wolf or a wolf-dog. And I know they're illegal in PA. If a dog has 10% or more wolf in their blood or in their DNA, they are illegal without a special permit," Shuttlesworth said.

After a DNA test, the shelter learned Towa is at least 40% wolf, making this the first time the shelter has taken care of a wolf hybrid. It's had to make special accommodations with Towa's cage and diet.

"They have more severe anxiety. They require more stimulation, more exercise than any normal dog. And with the anxiety, they'll destroy your house. If they're not stimulated properly physically or mentally, that's just a recipe for disaster," Shuttlesworth said.

Before coming to the SPCA, Towa had three owners. All of them struggled to take care of her because of her wolf tendencies.

"They couldn't handle her. She was always getting out, she was breaking windows, constantly getting out, and it's a lot. They don't want to take care of her, and it's too much for them to handle," Shuttlesworth said.

The workers at the Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA said you have to be careful to not treat a wolf hybrid like a typical dog.

"Not just for us, but for everyone else, this is a learning opportunity. Don't just get a dog for the way it looks. Educate yourself and read up on what you're getting yourself into. Because unfortunately, Towa is the one who is the one, I don't want to say suffered from, but at the same time, if it wasn't for us, where would she be?" Rachel Bainbridge, Ruth Steinert Memorial SPCA, said.

In a couple of weeks, Towa will be going to the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania in Lititz, where she will be joining a pack of rescue dogs just like her.    

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