A Massachusetts family who thought they’d found a puppy on the side of the road received a major surprise when they discovered that the animal was actually a baby coyote. According to a local wildlife center, the animal is now in safe hands and will be raised alongside another baby coyote. 

The Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable said the Eastern Coyote pup — which is the term for a baby coyote — was separated from its family last week and was discovered “wandering and distressed” on the side of a busy road. A local family took the pup home after mistakenly identifying it as a lost puppy — but after “realizing their mix up,” they called the center for help. 

The center said it was able to confirm that no one had been exposed to rabies, and cleared the pup for rehabilitation. The pup is now “recovering comfortably” in an isolation ward, and will soon be introduced to another baby coyote from a wildlife center in Rhode Island.

Once both pups have been vaccinated, the center said they will “be raised together and given a chance [to] grow and learn natural behaviors” in large outdoor caging. 

“We work hard to give them as much of a natural upbringing as possible, and will work to replicate the essential behaviors and skills they learn from mom and dad,” the center said. 

The center noted that while the situation was handled well, things could have gone much worse. If the pup had bitten, scratched, or had extended contact with the family who found it, the center would have been required to euthanize it to test for rabies. 

“We are grateful to every single person who takes time out of their day to help wildlife when they are [in] need, but we always encourage people to call the appropriate resources prior to intervening, it can help keep all involved safe!” the center said.