Exploring The World of Animal Shelters: An Inside Look At Wolf PAWS Inc.

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An interview with Wolf PAWS Inc. from Dandridge, Tennessee.

Introducing Wolf PAWS Inc.

Leia, Dakota, and Jennifer Ackley

Jennifer Ackley. I am the Founder, President, and Executive Director of Wolf PAWS Inc. as well as a certified professional dog trainer. Wolf PAWS is near & dear to my heart because wolf dogs are “special needs” animals. I have many years of experience caring for them, and I understand their unique needs. Forming the 501c3 nonprofit in 2013 allowed us to accept donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations to help us continue to care for the animals at our sanctuary who were rescued from various circumstances. Wolf dogs are unique in that they typically cannot be rehomed from shelters for liability reasons, and they have limited places to go. There are very few sanctuaries around the country, like Wolf PAWS.

How did Wolf PAWS Inc. Start?


After having a wolf-dog as a pet, I realized that they are difficult to keep as a pet and began to understand the many challenges people face when trying to take them into their home like a “normal dog.” Wolf dogs do not like being confined and typically do not do well living indoors; they require specialized containment of large areas with tall (8-foot high) fencing and dig guards to keep them from escaping; they require lots of daily exercises and are independent-minded which makes them difficult to train; they are illegal in many states & municipalities across the country, and vet care can be difficult to obtain. After having them as pets, I also learned how many wolf dogs there are in need of homes, with unprepared owners having to relinquish them. This prompted me to form Wolf PAWS Inc. as a 501c3 nonprofit organization in 2013.


What Are Some Of The Biggest Challenges Wolf PAWS Inc. Faces In Helping Animals In Need, And How Do You Work To Overcome Them?


Our sanctuary is currently at full capacity and cannot accept any more animals at this time. We network with other rescues & sanctuaries around the country, and we all share information when we learn about wolf-dogs in need of placement in hopes that another organization can take them in.

What Kind Of Programs And Services Does Wolf PAWS Inc. Offer To Help Animals, And How Do They Make A Difference In Their Lives?


Our Mission Statement: Wolf PAWS ‘Positive Awareness Wolf-dog Sanctuary’ was formed in 2013 in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee for the purpose of rescuing unwanted, abandoned, and abused wolf dogs and providing a permanent sanctuary for them in a safe and natural environment; providing an environment where these animals can be studied by individuals and educational institutions to further understand the wolf-dog, and educating the public about the specific care requirements and challenges of owning wolf-dogs, in an attempt to reduce the number of wolf-dogs being euthanized.

Can You Share Any Heartwarming Stories Of How Wolf PAWS Inc. Has Made A Positive Impact On Animals In The Community? What Kind Of Animals Do You Typically Work With, And What Are Some Of The Success Stories You’ve Seen?

We received a call in 2015 from Knox County Animal Control, who had picked up a wolf-dog in a cruelty case where the owner was neglecting his wolf dog. This poor boy was chained to a tree with limited access to food, water, and shelter. He was skinny, and his fur was matted. After spending a few days in the local shelter pending the court case, Wolf PAWS took him in and immediately began to give him proper nutrition and gentle, loving care. After a few weeks, he was a healthy weight and had made several friends with our volunteers. We posted his progress on social media, where a lady from California saw him and wanted to adopt him. We do not typically rehome our wolf dogs, but she had prior experience with wolf dogs and had proper containment at her home. She paid for the transport fee to CA, and this wolf-dog lived the rest of his life in luxury! She provided a wonderful home for him, and there was a female wolf-dog as his companion. *Please note: all of our animals (and the female in CA) are all neutered & spayed.

What Are The Help Needed From The Local Community?

Wolf PAWS does not receive any government funding. We operate solely on private donations from individuals, corporations, and private foundations. We need monetary donations for our ongoing operations, as well as product donations in the form of raw meats, dog treats, and nutritional supplements. Some of these can be found on our Wishlist at Chewy.com.


How Do You Ensure That The Animals In Your Care Are Well-Cared For And Given The Best Possible Chance At A Happy And Healthy Life? What Kind Of Veterinary Care And Nutrition Do You Provide, And How Do You Ensure Their Mental And Emotional Well-Being?


The well-being of our resident wolf dogs is our primary focus. We give them daily meals that meet their unique nutritional needs, including raw meats and supplements. Their enclosures are sufficiently large, so they can run and play chase. Wolf dogs are social animals, and each enclosure contains 2 wolf dogs – one male and one female – for companionship. They receive veterinary care from the Exotics Division of the nearby University of Tennessee Knoxville Veterinary College and are kept up-to-date with regular vaccinations and blood work.


Can You Tell Us About Any Challenges You Have Faced In Your Work And How You Have Overcome Them?

The main challenge we have faced over the years has been keeping steady volunteers. Wolf PAWS is located in a rural area about 45 minutes from downtown Knoxville. We have participated in programs such as Workaway and Wwoof, where volunteers come to stay for a few months and provide labor at the sanctuary in exchange for room & board. Thankfully, last year, a young couple came to us through Wwoof and loved it so much that they decided to stay long-term! We hired one of them recently to help make it economically viable for them to stay.


Are There Any Partnerships Or Collaborations That You Have Formed With Other Organizations Or Agencies In The Community?


Wolf PAWS is a member of the Alliance For Better Nonprofits and is partnered with the United Way of Knoxville.

What Are Your Future Plans And Goals For Your Organization, And How Can The Community Help Support These Initiatives?


Our future plans are to continue providing the best care and enrichment for our resident wolf dogs, who will live out the rest of their lives here at the sanctuary. As space allows, we plan on rescuing additional wolf dogs with the goal of rehabilitating them through training and socialization and with the goal of finding homes for them. In our private tours, we will continue educating the public about the specific care requirements of wolf dogs in hopes of reducing the number of wolf dogs who are homeless or euthanized. The community can support our organization’s mission through donations. You can make a donation directly on our website, www.wolfpaws.org, and you can book a private tour of the sanctuary on our website.


Connect With Wolf PAWS Inc. here:

Address: Wolf PAWS Inc. PO Box 891 Dandridge, TN 37725

Phone: 865-397-7656

Website: www.wolfpaws.org

Wondrousdrifter.com is thankful to Wolf PAWS Inc. for the interview. 

Check out this page for the list of animal shelters in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

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