Adopt A Shelter Dog Month
October is designated as Adopt a Shelter Dog Month for the purposes of promoting pet adoption and raising awareness about the millions of dogs currently living in shelters. It is estimated that 12 million dogs enter shelters all across the country each year.
Many shelters have experienced new challenges in recent years. A sagging economy has led to more pets being relinquished to shelters, higher costs for animal care, and declines in fundraising. These realities have resulted in some overcrowding in shelters and, sadly, to an increase in animals being euthanized.
The film “Rez Dogs” describes the unique and difficult challenges of dog rescue and adoption on the Navajo Reservation.
For the Navajo Nation, overpopulation of stray and abandoned dogs has been a long standing community health and animal welfare concern. Many of the remote reservation communities served by the ROAR program of National Relief Charities experience the same complex problems associated with stray animals that are described in the film.
American Indian reservations are chronically underfunded in general. Despite the federal dollars allocated to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, only 55% is directly used in behalf of tribes and tribal organizations and much of that in the form of services. Outside of these contracts, it is said that 10-15% of BIA spending is thought to actually reach the tribes for self-determined use. When there is not even sufficient funding to support basic services for human community members, the needs of the animals of the reservations can go overlooked or less prioritized. In the reservation communities served by NRC, there are few established shelter groups, and those in existence experience the same problem of overcrowding as more heavily resourced off-reservation shelters.
Fortunately, on the reservations, there are hundreds of extraordinary people committed to the health and well being of animals. Many of these rescue workers and foster families operate in informal networks held together by their shared vision of healthy, loved, well-cared for animals. Many of our ROAR Program Partners have sheltered injured animals and paid for food, immunizations, and healthcare until they could find the animals a forever family… partners like Dr. Carol Holgate in Tuba City who turned most of her home into a veterinary clinic, and the Blackhat Humane Society folks near Gallup who emphasize spay/neutering over euthanizing, and the Fort Peck MASH Unit group in Montana who uses a mobile clinic to bring animal care to families in remote communities.
People who rescue and foster dogs in the communities we serve are some of the most passionate and compassionate people in our work. We want to support their good efforts as well as advocate for responsible animal adoption and responsible pet ownership.