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February 17, 2022

Pennsylvania wildlife rescue shelter reveals identity of mystery canine

The enigmatic animal escaped from a veterinary hospital in Westmoreland County last month

Wildlife Canines
Pennsylvania Mystery Canine Coyote Wildlife Works Inc./Facebook

The mystery canine that was found in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in January has been identified as a coyote through genetic testing. The animal escaped from the Wildlife Works Inc. rescue shelter where it was receiving veterinary care.

Nearly a month after an unidentified canine was taken into the care of a western Pennsylvania animal rescue shelter, only to bust out of the facility in an improbable fashion, the results of a genetic test to determine its identity have been revealed.

Wildlife Works Inc. announced this week on Facebook that the canine is ... drum roll ... 100% coyote!

Posted by Wildlife Works Inc. on Monday, February 14, 2022

The odds swung heavily in favor of the animal being a coyote after it escaped from the Westmoreland County shelter within days of its arrival there.

Initially, wildlife experts were stumped by the male canine, whose fur showed visible signs of mange. It wasn't immediately clear whether he was a species of dog or a wild animal that possibly could have been a genetic combination of coyote and dog. Wildlife Works sent out DNA tests get a final answer, and in the meantime, the animal ran off in the middle of the night. 

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A Wildlife Works staff member showed up to the shelter and found that the area of the hospital where the animal had been kept was ransacked. Trash was strewn everywhere. There were scratch marks along the walls. The canine's cage was open and empty, and a window had had its seal and screen torn apart.

"The crate was just demolished. The hospital room was demolished. He had clambered up on a set of shelves and then reached over — this was no easy feat, let me tell you — he managed to stretch over to a window," Beth Shoaf, Wildlife Works' executive director, told PhillyVoice after the escape. "These windows are high at the top of the walls. They're not windows you look out of, you know? And he chewed the window seals to force the window open — and out he went!"

In the end, the animal was 100% a coyote who happened to be tolerant of people, but not captivity.

It's unfortunate that the coyote was not fully treated for his mange before he escaped from the shelter. Sometimes, nature just has to take its course. May the rest of his days bring joy and peace.