Shelley Coldiron works with a unique bunch, though you can’t tell when you first arrive at the property she manages. It’s a quiet, peaceful place, tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just northwest of Fort Collins. Birds chirp as a mountain breeze rustles through the trees and the soft notes of a wind chime ring out.
You wouldn’t notice the 30 wolves and wolf dogs that call this hideaway home until you heard the excited barking and chuffing of two of their educational ambassadors — Spartacus and Ashima — who reside in an enclosure close to the office.
Coldiron is the executive director of Wolves Offered Life and Friendship, known as W.O.L.F., a nonprofit wolf and wolf dog sanctuary operating since 1995.
“We work on improving the quality (of life for) wild wolves, wolves and wolf dogs through sanctuary, education and rescue,” said Coldiron.
The natural habitat enclosures at W.O.L.F. have plenty of room for the animals to roam. The habitats range in size ranging from a quarter acre up to one acre. Each enclosure is surrounded with a 10-foot-high chain link fences with buried dig guards.
Measures like that are necessary for the animal’s safety, according to Michelle Proulx, the director of animal care and education at W.O.L.F.
“We try to be a place for animals that don’t function in a captive setting,” said Proulx. “Most humane societies cannot legally adopt out an animal with the label of wolf or wolf dog.”
Those limitations mean W.O.L.F is at capacity more often than not. But that doesn’t stop them from helping wolves and hybrids. W.O.L.F is a part of a rescue network that helps many animals find sanctuary across the country.
Beyond helping the animals in their care, W.O.L.F. also helps educate the public on wolves and wolf dogs.
“W.O.L.F loves to educate the public both through our formal programs and through our volunteer and intern base,” said volunteer coordinator Mark Speth.
W.O.L.F. goes to schools and other organizations to educate people on the importance of wolves in nature, while also talking about the plight of exotic pets and why people shouldn’t own them. Ambassador animals like Spartacus and Ashima act as examples of why they need to be in a sanctuary and not a home setting — even though a lot of the hybrids show some dog characteristics such as barking and seeking human contact. W.O.L.F. emphasizes that wolves and wolf dog hybrids are wild animals who need more care than the average canine, as well as wolf companionship and room to roam.
If you’re interested in learming more about W.O.L.F., click here.
To volunteer, click here.
To find internship opportunities, click here.
To learn the stories of W.O.L.F.’s current residents like Spartacus, Ashima, Jacob and Sasha, click here.