Sharing the Love for Reservation Animals in Need

While dogs are often thought of as “man’s best friend,” within Native American cultures, they have a history of being so much more. Over the years their responsibilities have included hunting, guarding and even pulling sleds, and have long been considered essential members of their communities. Today that close relationship with animals continues, but unfortunately some tribes face significant overpopulation of animals and the challenges that brings.

The overpopulation of animals is a growing concern, specifically when it comes to dogs and cats. The Navajo Nation alone has thousands of stray dogs and cats on their land. These homeless animals are often in poor health, with many needing veterinary attention, some even dealing with broken bones or untreated infections.

Many of these animals may have been born as strays on the reservation. Other times, animals are left on the side of the road in Native communities by individuals living off-reservation, a practice commonly referred to as “animal dumping.” This creates health and safety issues for the tribal communities involved, and hardships for the animal.

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) through its Reservation Animal Rescue (RAR) program supports ongoing animal welfare efforts with a commitment to compassionate, humane treatment, which includes helping RAR partners that find these animals forever homes and ensure the health and safety of the community. Through our RAR program, we deliver essential supplies such as food, collars, leashes and more, support spay and neutering services and other medical care, and support education on how to properly care for animals. In 2016, PWNA supplied veterinary programs and animal care groups on remote reservations with more than 23,000 pounds of pet food and other needed supplies to help meet this growing concern.

During a mobile spay and neuter clinic supported by RAR in collaboration with Midwestern University’s Animal Health Institute, we met Rhianna, a young community member and volunteer from the San Carlos Reservation. She helped coordinate outreach so that members of her community knew to bring their pets to the mobile clinic for medical attention. She said, “Because we’re struggling monetarily, there is no way we can get our dogs fixed. They come out here and fix our dogs … they’re really a blessing to some families that love their pets but have no money to take them to a vet.”

You can join PWNA and RAR efforts to improve animal care and quality of life, and help to ensure all animals on reservations have their health, and a place to call home. Find out more at

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