Navajo Rez Dog Rescuer Up for $50,000 award!

“Growing up in Salt Lake City, Darrell McCurtain always looked forward to visiting his relatives in Salina Springs and Rough Rock, Arizona … except for the dogs. With their mismatched ears, multi-colored coats and legs that were either too short or too long, the rez mutts were fantastical creatures to McCurtain, who was used to seeing the purebred dogs in the city.” C. Yurth, The Navajo Times

Darrell, a Navajo tribe member himself, works to improve the conditions for pets on the reservations by working with the Navajo Nation, Ute Ouray Nation, Ute Mountain Nation. YouTube

Excerpt: Rez dog rescuer up for international ‘Unsung Hero’ award By Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times

“But so many of them were bony, limping, or worse — dead alongside the highway — that the young McCurtain would sometimes leave his ancestral homeland feeling depressed. McCurtain’s love of animals persisted into adulthood, and he found himself volunteering at Nuzzles & Co., a beautiful “rescue ranch” in Park City, Utah. Eventually he worked his way into a job as the shelter’s director of intake and community outreach. Nuzzles did a good job of pulling pets from nearby kill shelters, rehabilitating them and finding them forever homes

But McCurtain’s thoughts often wandered back to the reservation, where the shelters euthanized many more dogs than they saved and people often let animals out in the desert when they couldn’t afford to care for them. In 2014, McCurtain talked his bosses into making a rescue trip down to the Navajo Nation…’They were surprised at the need on the rez,’ he recalled.

Darrell and a rescue

McCurtain also wasn’t above using his status as a tribal member to make some connections and get Nuzzles into places the average tourist never sees…The rescue now visits the reservation once a month, and usually the Ute Mountain Ute animal shelter in Towoac, Colorado, as well, and fills up its van for the eight-hour drive back to the rescue ranch. If the crew sees a dog in critical need on the street, they’ll pick it up, but in deference to Navajo Nation law, they’ll usually pull from existing rescues on the reservation…Once at the ranch, they’re vaccinated, fixed, treated for fleas, ticks and parasites, and learn how to walk on a leash and be around people and other dogs before being adopted out…While on the rez, McCurtain talks to as many people as he can about the necessity of getting their animals vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

Generally, rescue is pretty thankless work. So McCurtain was surprised when, on one of his missions to the reservation,he [found out that ] he was one of five nominees internationally for Petco Foundation’s Unsung Hero award [and] the final winner would receive $50,000 for their organization… McCurtain said if he wins and Nuzzles is awarded $50,000, he’d like to put it all toward the rez dogs.”

To Vote (or adopt a pet) visit NUZZLES & CO.


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