Do you know the know difference between a wolf, wolfdog and a wolf hybrid? This is just one thing you will learn with a visit to the newly opened nonprofit Roam in the Spirit of the Wolf Sanctuary in Mason County, between Hoodsport and Shelton. Take a walk on the wild side with their VIP educational tours.

From a Dog Boarding Facility in Monroe to a Wolf Sanctuary in Shelton

During her 18 years running a domestic dog boarding facility while fostering wolfdogs on the side, Jodi Woolard decided these special animals needed more: a sanctuary to call home as well as a way to spread awareness and education to the general public. “As a huge wolf advocate, spreading awareness on the importance of wolf conservation was always something I was talking about,” Jodi shares.

One of the biggest issues, she found, was the misrepresentation of wolfdogs versus just a husky mix. Wolfdogs will be euthanized by a shelter if no sanctuary can be found to take them, but Jodi says sometimes it’s just a domestic husky mix, usually a shepherd, that could have found a home. “So, after several years of all this renting space in my head, we sold everything – the farm, the business, our vacation property – and we found this beautiful 40 acres of forest and started building Roam exactly two years ago today,” shares Jodi.

two wolfdogs, with mouths open playing
Riggs and Rumer having a sibling conversation at Roam Wolf Sanctuary in Shelton. Photo courtesy: Jodi Woolard

The Difference Between Wolves, Wolfdogs, and Wolf Hybrids

Pure wolves are wild, federally protected and not legal to own. Wolf hybrids are 50% pure wolf and 50% domestic dog. Wolfdogs – which you find at the Roam wolf sanctuary in Mason County – are created by specialized breeders. “Wolfdogs are the product of generations of wolfdog breeding to other wolfdogs until they reach the genetic makeup of a high-content wolfdog with the doggy temperament they are trying to acquire,” explains Jodi.

It’s legal in the United States for people to own a wolfdog with up to 98% wolf content, but some states and even counties have their own laws. Jodi explains that while Washington allows ownership, King and Kitsap counties have outlawed them while Jefferson, Mason, Thurston and Snohomish counties allow them. But, she cautions, it’s not really a good idea. “Too many people just want that cute little fluffy wolf pup and have no idea what they’re about to have on their hands over the next 6-24 months, she cautions. “They can’t take care of it, it’s destroying their house, they can’t find their cell phone, and you no longer have sheets on your bed, etc.”

And this is where sanctuaries and rescues like Roam come in, to give these wolfdogs an appropriate environment to live in. “An abundance of high-content wolfdogs are on the ground right now today (always born in the spring) for a $2,500-4,000 price tag, that don’t have homes lined up,” Jodi continues. “What might happen to those pups is a scary thought, as they could end up in the wrong homes with people who are not educated or experienced in owning one of these animals.”

Riggs howling on his stump at Roam Wolf Sanctuary in Shelton. Photo courtesy: Jodi Woolard

VIP Tours at Shelton Wolf Sanctuary

You will find visiting the Roam Wolf Sanctuary in Shelton is quite different from visiting a zoo. “I would say the difference between a sanctuary and a zoo is that while both play a role in animal welfare and conservation, we also engage in rescue for those who have been displaced, neglected or abused, we provide education and advocacy efforts to raise awareness about animal welfare issues, and we promote compassion and protection of wolves and wolfdogs both,” explains Jodi. “Here at Roam, we have prioritized providing them a beautiful home that is very much a peaceful and natural setting.”

During your VIP tour at the wolf sanctuary, your group will have the place to yourselves and will be guided through the peaceful environment with a knowledgeable staff member. You will learn about wolves and wolfdogs, their welfare, stories about the 10 wolfdogs that live at the sanctuary and more. A very special up-close meeting with one of the resident wolfdogs will be something you never forget. “I think this allows visitors to connect with our wolfdogs on a deeper level and support a cause dedicated to providing a safe and loving home for rescued animals,” she adds.

Tours help the nonprofit pay for the upkeep and care of these wolfdogs. You can also donate anytime via their website. They are currently looking for volunteers as well! If you would like to help out at the wolf sanctuary, email info@roamwithus.org. Visit the Roam in the Spirit of the Wolf website for more information and to schedule your tour. They offer a 15% military discount.

“You will wander forested pathways, connecting with the wolfdogs, you will have photography opportunities, a howling session with the wolves, an interactive session with one of our ambassador wolfdogs and you will leave here with an abundance of information and feel like you supported a worthy cause,” says Jodi. “Our goal for Roam was to give everyone who visits a heartwarming and enlightening experience that leaves a lasting impression and inspires a greater appreciation for animals in nature.”

Miss Felony in winter at Roam Wolf Sanctuary in Shelton. Photo courtesy: Jodi Woolard
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