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Shy Wolf Sanctuary celebrates 15 years

On Jan. 19, Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Naples celebrated its 15th anniversary. And, on Jan. 23, the sanctuary had two of its rescued wolf dogs partake in the community outreach and educating of local residents at the Naples Chalk Art Festival.
“We hope to be able to teach these people about the exotic pet trade and importance of doing your research whenever you buy a pet and to know what kind of pet you’re getting yourself into, not just because its fluffy and adorable,” said Colleen Clark, the education director at Shy Wolf Sanctuary.
The sanctuary’s founders, Nancy and Kent Smith, established the sanctuary in 2001 when they discovered “an overwhelming need” to protect wildlife in the area, including wolves and wolf dogs that are mistreated and without proper homes.
“We still are a grass roots organization, and we are hoping to be able to find a new location with more acreage,” Clark said. Clark said the sanctuary sits on three acres of land, but it would like to move to a larger plot of land in order to accommodate more animals and have more space for the animals to live.
“Twenty acres would give us bigger enclosures for these animals as well as more animals to rescue for facility for these animals,” Clark said. “We do get a lot of calls unfortunately we cannot take in. But, we try to find other housing and other sanctuaries to help out. So, we are an exotic pet community that helps with these sanctuaries.”
At the art festival, Shy Wolf was represented by Chief and Ranger, two wolf dogs that sanctuary volunteers provide homes for.

Chief, who is part husky and part gray wolf, enjoyed the attention he was given by festival goers. (EN gif / Jack Lowenstein)
Chief, who is part husky and part gray wolf, enjoyed the attention he was given by festival goers. (EN gif / Jack Lowenstein)

“Chief is a wolf dog,” Clark said. “He’s part husky and part gray wolf. We got a call from the humane society, and unfortunately, they would have been euthanized if we didn’t get the call. So, we were able to get him adopted to one of our volunteers because his mild temperament, and his look as being a wolf became a great ambassador to us.”
“We also have Ranger here, who is part Shepard and part wolf, about 40 percent wolf,” Clark said. “He was also a rescue. Unfortunately, he was abused at his previous ownership, and a lot of our animals do come from bad situations.”
Along with the visitor experience at Shy Wolf, it is the volunteer experience that seems to be worthwhile for people such as Theresa Schultz who has been with the sanctuary for a year and a half now. Schultz began volunteering with the sanctuary after she had numerous experiences as a visitor to the sanctuary.
“So, I went, and you get up close and personal when you visit there, but the animals are so much more relaxed when you volunteer there with us as volunteers,” Schultz said. “You get kisses. They just love you. It’s a great place to be. Nancy and Kent who run it, they couldn’t be more animal-oriented. So, the reward is all on us.”
The personalities of wolves and wolf dogs differentiate, and they seem to trust those who they have been around longer.
“These are wolf dogs,” Schultz said. “Sometimes, that works out where these are friendlier, not that wolves aren’t friendly, but they’re shyer.”
Chief and Ranger were having little difficulty getting up close and personal with the folks at the chalk art festival in Naples.
“These guys also belong to two volunteers, so they live in their homes,” Schultz said. “And, they’re just more used to people coming and going.”
Clark is also an FGCU alumna, who graduated with a degree in biology from the FGCU. She originally became involved at the sanctuary through her need to complete service-learning hours.
“I left for two years to finish up my degree then came back and fell in love all over again,” Clark said.
The sanctuary has a Facebook page where people can learn more about the sanctuary and connect with volunteers. To make donations to Shy Wolf, visit
“We need volunteers we need donations,” Clark said. “Come and visit Shy Wolf Sanctuary. We love to have visitors there.”

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    Liz MillerJan 28, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I love Shy Wolf and volunteer there on my one week in Florida a year. These are good people doing good things for animals. I understand that people look at exotic animals and think that they want one. However, even some dogs are beyond the time and attention a basic family (with working parents and kids in school and activities) can give them. Wolves and wolf-dogs are another level of care, and I’m glad that Shy Wolf is there to pick up the pieces from unfortunate decisions.