The NAWA (North American Wolf Association) Rescue
The story of the North American Wolf Association (NAWA) has been told and retold over the years. Yet we still receive dozens of calls, letters and emails each year wanting to know what happened, and if the animals are safe. Most of us that were heavily involved in the situation in Conroe, Texas would much rather put the entire rescue in the recesses of our memories. However, the events are still clearly etched in our minds eye. Rather than re-tell the story time and time again I would like to share with you a different story. Not one of the feuding over money, prestige, power and notoriety but one of new beginnings. One of a new life for a group of wolfdogs.
Our part in the rescue began in late January, 2003 after a number of individuals had spent months investigating the NAWA organization and its director, Rae “Evening Earth” Ott. During this same period almost half of the NAWA resident animals had died horrible, lingering deaths due to complications of distemper we are told. Ms. Ott lost possession of the “wolves” housed at the NAWA “Rez” for failure to pay the rent when the property owner filed a suit for eviction. The custodial care of the animals was transferred to an individual and Ms. Ott was given 60 days to make full restitution and her animals would be returned. Restitution was never made and in time the animals were signed over to several parties including W.O.L.F. who later signed the remaining animals over to us.
Along with W.O.L.F., we offered our services in hopes of getting the animals vaccinated and on the road to recovery so that the animals could be placed.
On February 1, 2003 we arrived that the “Rez” for the first time. We found a thick shroud of fog enveloping the swamp and a heavily rutted dirt road covered in stagnant water. We also arrived to find Jerry Mill’s pickup truck stuck up to its axel in the mud. We carried most of the supplies in through a half mile of sludge to find a collection of cages thrown together on the highest, driest spots of the “Rez”.
From the stories we had heard we expected horrid conditions and were relieved to see clean cages although many of the pens were full of stagnant puddles of surface water. Most of the cages were tiny 8×10, 10×10 or 10×20’ equipped with roofs laden with leaves, pine needles and debris making it difficult to get any direct sunlight. Most of the cages weren’t more than 5’ high.
We had also been led to believe from reading NAWA’s website and posts or pleas for help of one rescue or another that we would be dealing with wolves. Upon closer evaluation most of the animals were mid content wolfdogs at best. Some were misidentified un-socialized Siberian huskies.
Pat Wendland of W.O.L.F., Cheryl Budler and I got to work as quickly as possible.