GUFFEY, Colo. (CBS4) – A sanctuary for wolves and wolf-dog hybrids in a remote part of Park County is shutting down at the end of the month — but the animals are going to a new home where they will be helping American veterans.
“It is with very mixed emotions, we are announcing the closing of Rocky Mountain Wildlife Foundation. Both Mark and Catherine [Johnson] are feeling their age and caring for our beloved wolves and wolf dogs is getting more difficult,” organizers wrote on Facebook.
RMWF has been operating for 23 years and hosted tours that allowed people to get up close and personal with the animals.
The owners say they are beginning to feel their age and can’t keep up the round the clock care they animals deserve. For health reasons they also need to move to a lower elevation.
Thousands of visitors over the years have been allowed to better understand the mysterious creatures because of the work the Johnsons have done educating everyone from school groups to nursing home residents.
“One of the most magical experiences of my life,” said Ben Jones, who visited RMWF with his family. His father is pictured above, with Apache, the full blooded alpha wolf at the facility.
“Thank you for the amazing experience and all your dedication and hard work to these beautiful animals,” Amanda Sobkowicz wrote on Facebook.
The animals will continue to work as ambassadors for their species at a nonprofit in the Sedalia area.
“The good news is that a nonprofit in the Sedalia area is receiving all of our animals (including our cat, KIKI) to assist in their programs so the wolves will continue to interact with people in the same manner as they have done all of their time at RMWF,” organizers wrote on Facebook.
The animals are going to Mattersville, which focuses on helping veterans who are homeless, at risking of becoming homeless, or suffering from PTSD.
“We bring veterans in, we get to house homeless veterans, we get to house veterans and their families that are at risk of being homeless, see them heal, working with these wolves and continue to do great things,” Dan Wistrand, Director of Animal Care at Mattersville, said in a video posted on Facebook.
“It’s all about making sure these animals are taken care of, making sure our veterans are taken care of,” Wistrand said.
“You want to come up to the property, you want to take a wolf for a hike, guess what? We’ll make that happen,” Wistrand said.
“We at Mattersville will be allowing visits with the wolves for free. We of course will accept donations for the continued care of the Wolves and Veterans who care for them. Feel free to reach out to us to arrange a free visit at your convenience,” organizers wrote on Facebook.