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Reservation dogs in N.M. get a helping hand

rezdogsDogs can have it rough on Indian reservations, but two women — former co-workers now living 90 miles apart — are doing their best to rescue those in need and find them new homes.

Mary Williams,  a clinical nurse at the Crownpoint Health Care Facility in Crownpoint, N.M., has been rescuing dogs from the Navajo reservation for more than three years.

And Luisa Alvarez, a former co-worker of Williams is now operating a similar dog Rescue in Fort Defiance, Ariz., where she started taking in strays not long after moving there.

Both find homes for those dogs they can, and take the others to no-kill shelters in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M., and Boulder, Colo.

Between them, the two women have saved more than a thousand dogs and cats, according to an article on Reznet, a Native American news website.

Last year Navajo Nation Animal Control responded to 286 dog attacks and impounded more than 6,000 animals, including cats, said Olin Arviso, animal control manager at Fort Defiance, Ariz. The shelter euthanizes about 80 percent of the animals, according to the article, which noted dogs are far from pampered on the reservation.

“They’re not companions or friends, they’re expected to protect,” said an instructor from the Navajo Technical College. “The dog doesn’t really have any significance. In the Navajo way, a dog is not allowed in the hogan — inside the living quarters.”

On the reservation, dogs are often abandoned in the wilderness, drowned, or left on the highway. Many just roam, attached to no particular owner.

“I believe that every soul … deserves a chance at a good life,” Alvarez said. “There is no reason for the suffering that we see surrounding us.”

(Photo courtesy of RezNet, a project of the University of Montana School of Journalism; by Andi Murphy, a Navajo journalism student at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, serving this summer as editor of the Crownpoint Baahane’, a community newsletter in Crownpoint, N.M.)


Comment from NDN Dude
Time July 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Rez Dogs don’t have tags….hehe

Comment from DonaldDuckFan
Time August 10, 2009 at 8:01 pm

What these two women are doing is wonderful. The pets on Indian Reservations are no different then chickens in a factory farm. They are not “pets” rather they are security systems or sometimes worse. And like the article said, many are just eternal nomads. It is heartbreaking. I myself have two native american Indian reservation dogs who were mistreated and very much in need of a stable environment. With time and patience it has been well worth it. They have turned out to be the most amazing dogs I have ever owned. Unfortunately due to their past (a true tearjerker) I do not think they will ever be fully domesticated or fully trust any human. But it is wonderful the relationship they have with one another. They have been running together since the reservation and their escape and I have kept them together. They have truly become my best friends and it is obvious they are each other’s best friends. To anyone out their with the heart and the resources please opt for a dog from one of the reservations, they need it desperately. Take Care, from one pet lover to another.

Comment from dave
Time March 4, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Just picked up a little cutie at a jack n t box on the 21st.

Comment from dave
Time March 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I was on a road trip through texas, when I came upon a couple giving away this little puppy. My heart was humbled and I took pity on the little creature. His name is RAGU.
He has been to the vet and getting initial shots and mange treatment as well as my other mix, Cinderella.
DVM list at 6 wks, march 5. Found on 2-21-2012.
Any help would be appreciated. Adding to insurance plan. David Hennek.

Comment from kelly
Time February 10, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I am looking for a young female dog. I live in Ridgway CO. Does anyone know of any in trouble that need a home?