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Fri, Oct. 18

A second chance: Rescued wolf dogs

Mark Happe, founder of Pets Return Home, with the wolf dogs that have been rescued from California. (Vyto Starinskas/VVN)

Mark Happe, founder of Pets Return Home, with the wolf dogs that have been rescued from California. (Vyto Starinskas/VVN)

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Rescued wolve dogs

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The volunteers at Pets Return Home resembled a M.A.S.H. unit as they lifted the 35 wolf dogs from an RV retrofitted with kennels in Clarkdale last week.

The wolf dogs had just made the long trip from northern California after being rescued from a breeder and were on a kill list.

Volunteers in Clarkdale put on surgical gowns, processed each wolf dog for health and medical issues and relocated them into their new sanctuary off Sycamore Canyon Road.

There were six wolf dog mothers with 26 puppies and three were pregnant. One has since given birth to eight more puppies while in Clarkdale.

The massive rescue was coordinated by Pets Return Home in Clarkdale, PlanB Foundation in Sedona, Apex Protection Project in California and several other rescue organizations, according to Mark Happe, founder of Pets Return Home.

These wolf dogs were scheduled to be euthanized by the county government in California after more than 160 wolf dogs were determined to be living at one breeder’s facility, Happe said.

The local dog shelter, behavioral rehabilitation facility and sanctuary was doubled to take in the wolf dogs. Normally, it has about 30 dogs.

The Pets Return Home facilities were built by Happe from the ground up and take in high-risk dogs from local humane societies’ kill lists that are deemed not trainable or undesirable. Happe works to retrain and rehabilitate them, or he offers them sanctuary,

Pets Return Home has one staff person and several regular volunteers, but now needs many more to help with the wolf dogs, Happe said. “We need help. We need volunteers. We need donations big time.”

These dogs are not dangerous, but are not currently social with humans, explains Happe. They were not around many people at the breeders in California. They were just around other dogs.


The wolf dogs at Pets Return Home in Clarkdale are not dangerous, but are not currently social with humans. (Vyto Starinskas/Verde Independent)

Happe believes the canines are most likely “low-content” wolf, referring to wolf-to-dog ratio.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” explained Happe, when asked how difficult it will be to adopt so many wolf dogs. It will not only involve Arizona, but a national effort. He will also work with other rescues and attend adoption events.

“These dogs are not aggressive,” he emphasized. “You can walk up to any of them. But they are fearful.”

People who adopt one of the wolf dogs are going to need to have at least a 6-foot fence,  Happe said. They will require a lot of “patience” because they are fearful of people.

There is still the question of what will happen to the remaining dogs with the breeder in California, Happe said. A few dogs have gone to another state, but many still are in need of a home.

Happe said if he could build out his facility and hire more people, he would consider taking the other dogs, but that is not possible right now.

Happe and his volunteers have reconstructed his horse stables into a home for the dogs with fencing and dog igloos. The horse tach room has become a quarantined room to treat the dogs with Parvovirus under the direction of a Cottonwood veterinarian.

If you want to donate to the wolf dog rescue, visit

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