WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s infamous “black coyotes” will soon be on their way to their forever home.
Libby and Bella, who are believed to be wolf hybrids, are slated to leave the Warwick Animal Shelter sometime this week. The 6-month-old sisters are being brought to a sanctuary in Ohio called the Red Riding Hood Rescue Project.
The dogs gained notoriety after the two were spotted near Oakland Beach late last month. Libby and Bella spent several days on the lam, sauntering down streets, running through yards and playing with one another along the shoreline.
The wolfdogs were originally thought to be coyotes, until it was discovered that the two were intentionally set loose from a home on Powhatan Street.
The dogs’ DNA is currently being tested to determine their exact breeds, though the Warwick Animal Shelter decided it would be best to send the dogs to the sanctuary because “it is not in their best interest to stay here” until the results come back.
The Red Riding Hood Rescue Project is a sanctuary specifically for wolfdogs. While it is legal to own wolf hybrids in Ohio, Rhode Island is one of 12 states where it’s against the law.
Even though the sanctuary didn’t initially have room for the two dogs, now named the “401 girls,” more than a dozen volunteers spent two weekends building a massive enclosure in anticipation of their arrival.
The enclosure, dubbed the “401 Run,” includes a large doghouse, swimming pool, sun shades and dig guards. The sanctuary has also installed a plaque highlighting the dogs’ journey to their new home.
“These were abused and neglected puppies in an illegal state for wolfdogs and they were met with love,” the plaque reads. “Rhode Island residents are responsible for getting them here.”
The sanctuary is requesting donations to help pay for the dogs’ travel expenses, as well as their new enclosure and enrichment.
The sanctuary expects the dogs to be skittish while getting used to their new surroundings, which is why they will be given time to decompress. Both Libby and Bella will be put up for adoption so long as their training and socialization is successful. If not, the wolfdogs will receive lifetime care at the sanctuary.
The two residents who intentionally released the wolfdogs have since been arrested and are facing animal cruelty and abandonment charges.
The sanctuary wouldn’t confirm when the dogs are expected to have “paws on the ground” in Ohio, though it should be “very soon.”
12 News reached out to the Warwick Animal Shelter for an update on their journey but has not yet heard back.