A miracle puppy who was found in a rural backyard after possibly being droppedby a bird of prey was discovered to be a purebred dingo, to the joy ofconservationists.

Wandi is less than a year old, but already, the small dingo puppy is carryingthe weight of his species on his shoulders.

Lyn Watson, director of the Australian Dingo Foundation, said it was very rarefor a sanctuary to take in a 100% purebred dingo puppy and Wandi would be animportant part of their breeding program to save the vulnerable species.

“They’re our apex predator. They’re our lion,” Watson said. “Their job is tokeep the kangaroo population down. That was their job before the coming of theEuropeans. That was their job for thousands of years.”

Dingoes are native to Australia but have had their numbers reduced by habitatdestruction and hunting. The species is currently listed as “vulnerable” bythe International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Wandi was discovered in a backyard in the small town of Wandiligong in thestate of Victoria in August.

“They went out in the morning and they could hear whimpering,” said RebekahDay, a veterinarian. Day said originally, the family who found Wandi left himalone, thinking he was lost, but eventually, after no one claimed him, theyrealized he was not a normal puppy.

Wandi was taken to Day’s Alpine Animal Hospital in Bright, a nearby town.

“He was very laid back and happy to be picked up,” Day said. “Really just everso cute. He was just a little floof.”

Day noticed marks on Wandi’s back, which looked like scratches. She said itwas likely they were made by a large bird of prey which had snatched Wandiaway from his family with the intention of making a meal out of him.

“There was no evidence of any other dingoes around (and) we have some largebirds of prey in the area, and we have seen lambs and small dogs picked up onoccasion,” she said.

Eventually, Watson and her foundation, which is located nearby, heard aboutthe puppy and got in touch with Day. She agreed to take Wandi into her care,but also asked Day to send off a genetic sample to the University of New SouthWales for tests.

The results took six to eight weeks to come back and in that time, Watson saidher team worked to socialize Wandi by giving him a companion and introducinghim to other dingoes his age.

“(At the beginning), he sank his fangs into everybody,” she said, laughing.

When the results finally came back at 100% purebred dingo, Watson said herteam was “delighted.” She said the little dingo would be an important part oftheir breeding program, which consists of about 40 adults.

Watson said she hoped Wandi would be the “flagship” for Australia to improveits knowledge of the dingo and the important role the animal plays in thecountry’s ecosystem.

“We’re just keeping the genetic lines going until the day that there’s goingto be a safe place where they can be rewilded,” she said.

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