ALTHA, Fla. (WMBB) — Pack 22 Alpha is known on social media for the wolf rescue work they do alongside veterans.
The leader of the pack, Drew Robertson, said when veteran Dawn Elrod called asking for help, they knew where their next stop would be — Altha, Florida.
Elrod’s home in Altha was destroyed by Hurricane Michael. She said she hasn’t had hot water since the storm. She also said not long ago, she was hit by a semi-truck. This made it hard for her to care for the wolves in her enclosure.
Her husband took on a majority of the strenuous work. But in June 2021, he passed away, and she has been struggling since to even afford food for herself and the animals she considers her children.
“It got to a point where I was having to sell things, pawn things just to have the feed, the money for the feed for them,” Elrod said.
When Robertson saw the condition of this enclosure, he said he knew he had to bring in help quickly. He was scared the wolf dogs’ lives were at risk. He said he canceled his honeymoon to begin clearing the land and starting construction.
“Helping a veteran, helping the animals, rehabbing the property. Bringing it back to a good healthy state of being as well, is a big part of what we’re going to do,” Robertson said.
The crew plans to build many enclosures all over the eight-acre property donated by Elrod.
When it’s done, there will also be tiny homes placed on the property for veterans with PTSD, like Dawn, to stay and help raise the hybrid wolves.
D’Andre Mitchell is one of the Pack 22 veteran volunteers. He said it only took 10 seconds of watching the Pack 22 intro video to know he wanted to join. He’s moved from Rhode Island to Colorado, and now Florida.
“We all in some way suffer from the effects of PTSD and we all have each other’s back, and we don’t have to be looking around like, ‘Oh my God, you know, like who’s trying to harm us.”
Mitchell said volunteering for Pack 22 has helped him and those suffering from PTSD around him, immensely.
Robertson said pairing wolf rescue with veterans is the perfect combination. Both the veterans and wolves are guarded. Veterans have to work to earn the trust and respect of the wolves, just as the veterans suffering from PTSD have to learn to trust the world again.
“Not only are they saving wolf dogs’ lives, but they’re saving mine,” Elrod said.
Anyone is welcome to join the pack. They rely heavily on help and donations from the community.
Leaders said it only takes one day of volunteering a week to make a difference. If you would like to donate or volunteer, click here for a link to their website.