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A family rescued this stray puppy. It turned out to be a coyote

coyote pup
Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center
This eastern coyote pup is recovering at Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Cummaquid. He will be joined by a sibling from Rhode Island.

He'll recover on Cape Cod and learn natural behaviors before his release into the wild.

A stranded eastern coyote pup mistaken for a lost dog is recovering in Cummaquid.

A family picked him up from a busy road in Sherborn on April 23, and realized at home that their new companion was not a puppy.

The nonprofit Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center and the Department of Public Health determined that the family was not exposed to rabies. MassWildlife permitted the Center to treat and vaccinate the coyote, which would have been euthanized had he bitten or scratched someone.

"Here on Cape Cod it is baby season. We're getting a lot of rabies vector species, like foxes, raccoons, skunks and bats, that are either sick, injured or orphaned," says Zak Mertz, the Center's executive director.

Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center runs veterinary hospitals in Barnstable and Weymouth for the New England Wildlife Centers.

Over the next several months of rehabilitation, the coyote pup must learn the natural behaviors he would have picked up from his parents.

"We were able to find another sibling that needed care, and they'll be able to learn from each other," Mertz says. "That way, when it comes time for release, they will be well-suited and well-adapted to go into the wild on their own."

This time of year it is common to see a coyote stray from its den. Do not approach an animal in distress. Contact Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center at 508-362-0111.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.