After finding what they thought was an adorable lost puppy wandering along the side of a road, a Massachusetts family fell in love with the tiny dog and decided to bring it home.
But they soon realized the cute, defenseless creature wasn't nearly as vulnerable as they initially thought.
The "dog" was actually an Eastern Coyote pup, according to the Cape Wildlife Center.
"After realizing their mix up they called us for assistance," wrote the Wildlife Center on Facebook. "With the help of the Mass Department of Public Health we were able to determine there was no potential exposure risk to rabies, and were able to clear him for care and granted permission to rehab by Mass Wildlife."
The pup is currently being held in an isolation ward, but he won't be alone for long. The Center just received another coyote pup from the Wildlife Clinic of Rhode Island, and the two will soon be introduced as foster siblings.
“Once both pups receive their vaccinations they will be raised together and will be given a chance grow and learn natural behaviors in our large outdoor caging," the Center said. "We work hard to give them as much of a natural upbringing as possible, and will work to replicate the essential behaviors and skills they learn from mom and dad."
While this case has a happy ending, officials say things could have gone much differently.
"Coyotes are considered a Rabies vector species in Massachusetts," the Center noted, " and are susceptible to contracting the virus that is deadly to all mammals, including people. If the finders had been bitten, scratched, or had extended contact we would have been mandated to euthanize the pup and test for rabies."
If you find wildlife that appears in need of help, officials encourage contacting the appropriate resources prior to intervening in order to protect everyone involved.