Under'dogs' find new homes at adoption day
by Emily Lawson
The Times-Independent
Jun 28, 2018 | 844 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Hartwig family cuddles their new puppy, Milky Way, at a recent adoption event held at WabiSabi. 								   Photos by Emily Lawson
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Underdog Animal Rescue and Rehab, a local nonprofit that finds home for stray dogs, held an Adoption Day at the WabiSabi Thrift Store in Moab last Friday, June 22. Underdog brings canines living as strays in tribal nations near the Four Corners Area to live at their ranch in Spanish Valley in hopes of finding each one a loving home.

According to Underdog’s founder Katy Gullette, turnout for Friday’s event was high. “I’d estimate we had 30 or 40 people here,” she said.

“This was a nice turnout,” added Desiree Miller, an organizer for Underdog Animal Rescue. “There was a diverse range of people coming by today.”

Out of seven young dogs brought to the adoption event on Friday, four went home with families, according to Gullette. Three dogs are currently out on trial periods, and one puppy was adopted.

That puppy, a black mix named Milky Way, went home with the Hartwig family. “It’s been six years since our last dog passed away,” said Claudia Hartwig, watching her daughter play with Milky Way. “We needed a grieving period, but now we’re finally ready for another dog in the family.”

Gullette and Miller emphasized that there are large numbers of strays on reservations, perhaps as many as 20,000 or even more. Their organization only brings a few to an adoption event, but there are many more at their facility. “We brought seven today, but we have about 30 more dogs back at the ranch,” said Gullette. Last year the organization processed about 180 dogs, according to Gullette. “You start to run out of names after a while,” she said. “Milky Way is the last puppy from the ‘candy’ litter. Butterfinger was brought home earlier.”

Members of the public are welcome to make an appointment to visit Underdog Animal Rescue and Rehab’s ranch at Spanish Valley to meet more of the dogs that are available for adoption.

Stray dogs from reservations cannot be adopted from the local shelter, though the two organizations cooperate to find homes for strays. “The shelter in Moab only deals with city animals,” explained Gullette. “If a good Samaritan takes an animal from the reservation to the shelter in town, they transfer the dog to us.”

Gullette has been working for a decade to address the high population of stray dogs living in dire conditions, but the project is difficult. “The Navajo Nation alone is bigger than the state of West Virginia,” she said, “and then you have all the other reservations that connect down there... A lot of us have been working on the reservation for about ten years now, really in a focused effort to reduce the population—to spay, neuter and vaccinate. I like to think that we’ve made a difference. I see a lot fewer dogs dead on the side of the road.”

Underdog is always looking for volunteers. “We are a three-woman-run operation, so volunteers are extremely helpful,” said Miller.

The Moab community can expect to see more adoption events from Underdog in the near future. “I think we’re going to try another adoption event at the Kokopelli Lodge next week,” said Miller.

The best way to learn about or contact Underdog Animal Rescue is through their Facebook page, which can be found by searching “@underdogrescueandrehab. “That’s the best way,” said Gullette. “If you follow our page, then you’ll see our notices and find our events.”

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