Wolf like me

Britt Straw


The United States Wolf Refuge has been in Northern Nevada for the last 15 years. Prolific local singer-songwriter Britt Straw is volunteer coordinator and events coordinator. (More information about her music can be found at www.facebook.com/brittstraw.) Wolf Stock 2016, a fundraiser for the refuge, will be held from noon to 9 p.m. on July 31 at the Potentialist Workshop, 836 E. Second St. The event will feature live music performances by Lizzie Cates, Lucas Paul, Wabuska Yachting Club, the Siren Society, Ruby Jaye Fradkin and Straw herself. The event’s raffle and silent auction includes items from BVW Jewelers, Strange Bikinis, Midtown Wine Bar, Absolute Tattoo, Great Full Gardens, Two Chicks, Junkees and many more.

A couple of the refuge’s animals will make appearances. Visit www.uswolfrefuge.org.

How many animals do you have?

Seventeen. … They all come from captivity—born into a domesticated setting. They come from all over—Utah, Oregon, California, Nevada, of course—mainly the West Coast states. People call us and say, “We have an issue here. Can you help us out?” A wolf-dog that’s bred in a domestic setting and sold to the public. The general public does not know what they’re doing, so when they get this cute little puppy, they’re all excited, but once they start getting bigger, if you don’t know how to accommodate their natural instincts, it’s a downhill spiral.

What are mistakes people make?

Well, just getting a wolf-dog is a mistake, so we educate people about that.

When you say “wolf-dog,” do you mean half wolf, half dog?

Mixed, yes. Wolf and dog of different percentages. We can’t verifiably tell, because we don’t have the funds to do the DNA testing, so we just go off characteristics. But they’re a mix of wolf and dog. The difference between a wolf-dog and a dog is that dogs are bred to please the human. They’ll turn to us for help. Wolf-dogs are the exact opposite. They’re independent like a cat. Things are on their terms. What’s theirs is theirs, and what’s yours is also theirs. … They require large space to run. They can also be illegal in certain states.

Have any of your animals attacked people?

Not attacked, but some have bitten. That’s why they’re there. Some were found. One of our animals was found chained up inside of a van and it took three hours to remove his collar. Now he’s 11, and he’s this big happy goofball, but it took him two years to adjust to where people could enter the enclosure without him biting them. We have a couple that are there because a lot of people think that if they buy a wolf-dog and it’s not working out, they can just set it free and it’ll survive out in the wild. It doesn’t work that way.

So, they are too domesticated to survive on their own, but not domesticated enough to be pets?

They’re stuck in the middle! You can’t just set them free. They already know that humans are their resource for food, so they’ll always come back. We don’t deal with wolves in the wild. We just deal with captivity. But we do try to help the wolves in the wild. Yellowstone this past weekend had a Speak for Wolves event. That’s huge, because so many people think that wolves are big and bad and ferocious, and they’re going to come kill everybody.