When little Princess was found lying curled up in a ball, it was impossible to even tell what kind of animal she was. Assuming that the pile of fur was a little puppy, though, her rescuer rang the local animal services – who were shocked by what they found.
Princess was first discovered in July 2016 by Sharon Bertozzi, who found the animal cowering behind a vase on the front step of her home. Seemingly unable to move, Princess stayed there for four hours.
“My heart just ached for her,” Bertozzi wrote on Facebook. So she alerted the City of Folsom Animal Services, and rescuers arrived on the scene in a matter of hours. Only then, however, did Bertozzi learn that what she had thought was a sick little puppy wasn’t actually a dog at all.
Even the rescuers were shocked by what they found, but they went ahead with their assistance nonetheless. They even named the animal Princess. “She had such soft eyes, that relayed the message of help me if you can,” said Cindy Walden, officer at City of Folsom Animal Services.
“At first this was thought to be an old very sick dog. Upon taking a better look, it is really a young coyote with a really bad case of mange,” explained the city’s animal services department on Facebook.
And while the animal service department doesn’t itself normally deal with coyotes, it made an exception for Princess. “This one was taken because [she] was right by a front door to a house and was not wanting to leave,” the page post continued.
On top of her severe mange, moreover, poor Princess was severely dehydrated. Walden and her team therefore muzzled the young coyote and gave her a subcutaneous injection of fluids as an emergency treatment.
They then drove her to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue in Loomis, where Princess would be in good hands. Indeed, it was the perfect temporary home, as the non-profit organization has experience with restoring to health and releasing wounded and orphaned wild animals.
“Upon arrival at Gold Country’s Wildlife Intake Center, this young female coyote was given rehydration fluids and medications for sarcoptic mange and itching,” Sallysue Stein of Gold Country Wildlife Rescue told The Dodo in July 2016.
And although the center has over 20 years’ experience in wildlife rehabilitation, the staff there were still shocked by Princess’ state. “She is in [a] very fragile condition and suffering from one of the worst cases of mange that we have ever seen. Her skin is very dry and cracked and she is extremely weak, but we are doing all that we can for this sweet canine,” the rescue center reported on its Facebook page at the time.
In addition, Princess was given a soothing bath to remove some of the dead skin from her fur. “The next morning we were pleased to see that she drank all of the water and special diet food we had left with her overnight. She started scratching less and eating more,” Stein added to The Dodo.
As the days passed, then, Princess began to resemble a coyote once again. Her mange disappeared to reveal a shiny grey coat, and her gorgeous green eyes began to sparkle.
Coyotes are native to the United States and are closely related to wolves. But, due to their loss of habitat, they have been forced to live side by side with humans in recent years. As a result, they are often seen as nuisance animals and a threat to small backyard pets.
That’s because they are frequently found lurking in residential properties – where trash cans offer free meals. Additionally, they have been known to attack or kill small pets left outside. Consequently, coyotes are seen as pests and eliminated; it’s estimated, moreover, that humans are killing half a million of the animals a year in the U.S.
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the wildlife rescue received some backlash for taking the ailing coyote under its wing. “If you read the comments on our Facebook page, some people are saying why would you release something that’s going to eat cats? Just shoot it,” Stein said to KXTV in July 2016. However, for every hater, Princess had at least twice as many supporters.
Indeed, although she still had a long way to go on the road to recovery, Princess nevertheless found love and a legion of fans thanks to her beautiful face. “Oh my gosh though, you can see how cute she is in spite of it all. I hope she’s ok,” gushed one Facebook user on a post featuring a photo of Princess being treated by Gold Country Wildlife Rescue.
Meanwhile, even Princess’ original discoverer couldn’t resist checking up on the little coyote. “I can’t thank you enough for taking care of her,” Bertozzi wrote in reply to another of Gold Country Wildlife Rescue’s Facebook posts. “Please keep us updated on her progress. She holds a very special place in our hearts!”
Naturally, it was expected that Princess would need to stay at Gold Country Wildlife Rescue for a few months as she recovered from her various ailments. Then, it was hoped that, when the time was right, the coyote would be released back into the wild.
Stein, however, gave all Princess’ fans some positive news while speaking to The Dodo. “She is now back on a natural diet, gaining weight and showing improvement in her skin,” she said. “We feel confident that she is on the road to a full recovery.”
And no one was more elated by Princess’ progress than her doorstep discoverer, Bertozzi. “She looks so much better than she did when I first found her on my front porch a month ago,” Bertozzi said in a comment on an August 2016 photo that the rescue center posted of Princess on Facebook. “She looks like she’s twice the size she was. THANK YOU SO MUCH GCWR for taking such good care of her.”
Interestingly, though, while the critter had been nicknamed Princess when she was first found, the staff at Gold Country Wildlife Rescue didn’t refer to her by any name when around her. That’s because they wanted to treat the coyote as the wild animal she really was. Still, that didn’t mean that they didn’t fall in love with her regardless.
“I feel like we can help and then we can put them back out in the wild,” Stein added to KXTV. “I have to tell you those release days – I tear up just thinking about it. We send them back, we don’t know what’s going to happen to them, but we give them a second chance, that’s all we can do.”
After a while, then, Princess was relocated to the Sierra Wildlife Rescue, where she would be able to interact with other coyotes. Indeed, she was placed in a pen with two other coyotes of similar age, who immediately formed a pack with her.
Then, in September 2016, Princess and her new friends were released back into the wild. And with a thick, full coat of fur, the now magnificent animal looked almost unrecognizable from the frightened, hungry thing that Bertzolli had found on her doorstep.
Indeed, Princess had clearly gained a lot of weight and was seen sporting a wonderful red and brown coat. With love and care, the little scruffball had managed to turn into a truly majestic canine. And the transformation didn’t go unnoticed by her fans, who gushed that she was “beautiful.”
“Yesterday, we had the pleasure of releasing three coyotes that we had been rehabbing. They were released in a beautiful area with abundant space, water and game,” read a Facebook post documenting the coyote’s release.
“The release went flawlessly and the coyotes were obviously very happy to be free again,” the post continued. “The first pics show them in our cage at our home and then the later pics show the release.”
According to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue, the coyotes were released as close to the places where they had been found as possible. And though they will start out their new lives as a pack, it is unlikely that the threesome will stick together for long. After all, coyotes prefer to hunt alone or in pairs.
Images from the release day, meanwhile, document the sheer joy surrounding the occasion. Indeed, the three coyotes can be seen leaping and bounding though the grass. And it could very well be that this was the healthiest they had ever been in their lives.
And while it is becoming more and more difficult for coyotes in urban areas, Princess’ story shows that love can be found just around the corner. Thanks to Sharon Bertozzi, Cindy Walden and the rest of her rescuers, Princess is now healthy, happy and free.