A Massachusetts family got a surprise when they decided to give a stray puppy a fresh start and brought him home.
The family rescued the dog after finding him worse off by the roadside.
But when experts were consulted, they quickly concluded it was a coyote, according to the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable.
The eastern coyote pup appeared to have been separated from its animal family at far too young an age to thrive independently.
It was found “wandering and desperate on the side of a busy road,” the center said.
“He was then accidentally brought home by a local family after they misidentified him as a lost puppy. After realizing their mix-up, they called us for help.
“With the help of the Mass Department of Public Health, we were able to determine that there was no potential risk of exposure to rabies and we were able to clear him for treatment and allow him to go to rehab through Mass Wildlife,” the center added.
The coyote pup has recovered in the center’s isolation ward. A foster sibling from Rhode Island’s Wildlife Clinic has arrived at Barnstable Center and will be introduced to the pup soon.
The Cape Center plans to raise the two puppies together in their outdoor cage once they are vaccinated.
“They will grow up together and get a chance [to] grow and learn natural behaviors,” the center said, adding, “We work hard to give them as much of a natural upbringing as possible.”
Although the coyote pup was rescued, the center warned that the case could easily go awry because coyotes are considered rabies vectors or carriers in Massachusetts, including raccoons, skunks, bats and woodchucks.
“We are grateful to every single person who takes the time to help wildlife when they are in need, but we always encourage people to call the appropriate resources before intervening,” the center said.