What started out as three dogs roaming near Highway 70 on the Mescalero Apache Reservation turned into more than 30 in just a year.
“I saw what I thought were about a dozen dogs. I thought I was really so tired that I was imagining it,” said Sunny Aris, Director of Animal Village NM.
It’s something Aris says she discovered a few weeks ago, when she nearly hit a group of them.
“I was able to get them off the road to feed them, so that they would stay off the highway, and when I was doing that, I saw that they were eating the remains of a dead puppy from their pack, but they had no food,” said Aris.
Some dogs have been killed by drivers and others are in danger of the same fate. Aris knew something had to be done, yet, with no place for them and no extra funding, her hands were tied.
Meanwhile, conservationists were threatening to euthanize the dogs.
Then, the BISSELL Pet Foundation stepped in with a matching grant for $7,500.
“We were getting calls every day: ‘We found more dogs! We found more dogs,’” said Bri Olson, BISSELL Pet Foundation spokesperson. “They weren’t being fed. There were just too many dogs to kind of keep track of, and so they were crossing the busy highway to hunt for food.”
Aris was able to make an agreement with the family that owned the dogs, which allowed her to take 25 of them, giving them a second chance at life.
“We got a signed contract whereby the family agreed to spay and neuter the dogs they were going to keep, because otherwise we don’t enter into a situation that’s just going to continue,” she said.
The Animal Village NM shelter in Alamogordo doubled in size with the addition, and several kennels had to be built outside to house them.
Each ‘RezQue’ has now been vaccinated, microchipped, and given an Apache name to honor where they came from.
“This wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without them. Those kennels wouldn’t be out there without them. The dogs would still be on the highway and most of them would be dead, either on the highway or shot without Bissell Pet Foundation,” said Aris.
There is still one more dog to rescue and the group hopes to get rescue it Monday.
Click here to find out how to help Animal Village NM, or information on adopting one of the dogs when they’re ready.